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Opinion & Analysis

Promote culture of mentorship in entrepreneurship

Entrepreneurs in Kenya are creating more jobs than the private sector and government collectively.

According to the 2017 Economic Survey by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, the informal sector popularly referred to as Jua Kali accounted for 89.72 per cent of the 832,900 jobs created in 2016.

To put these figures into clear context, 747,300 jobs were created by the Jua Kali sector as compared to the 85,600 created by the formal sector.

Given that both the government and formal sector are unable to satisfy the 800,000 to one million jobs (World Bank, 2012) per year requirement to keep up with growing numbers of school leavers and graduates contributing to the rapidly growing unemployment bulge, more focus needs to be directed towards the country’s entrepreneurship ecosystem.

Granted, Kenya boasts of one the most vibrant ecosystems in Africa with accelerators, incubators and innovation hubs abound. Just like any other natural ecosystem, for it to be beneficial to its dependents, it needs to be well balanced.

While the ecosystem here is indeed thriving, a lot more needs to be done to ensure that the entrepreneurs it serves are well nurtured to satisfy the rather high employment and economic generation goals.

Mowgli Mentoring holds that the key to developing entrepreneurship and fostering economic development lies in having a well-balanced ecosystem with equal investment in 4 key pillars; environment (schooling, parenting), finance (working capital, debt and equity financing), infrastructure (incubators, accelerators, utilities and sound legal frameworks) and human capital development (mentoring, skills and knowledge development).

The entrepreneurial journey is certainly not an easy one. Entrepreneurs go through various distinct phases of growth and each are accompanied with its own set of challenges.

Although mentoring is valuable throughout the entrepreneurial lifecycle, there are three key developmental phases; start-up, growth and success stages, that require mentoring.

It is during these key stages that an entrepreneur will need support and guidance to deal with cultural, societal, psychological, professional and importantly personal interferences such as loneliness, deep rooted fears and limiting beliefs that prevent them from successfully moving the business forward.

The phrase ‘Potential minus Interference equals Success’ clearly defines how mentoring works and its importance in supporting entrepreneurs.

For an enterprise to be successful, the entrepreneur needs to have and continue developing their personal and professional attributes to adequately find and steer the organisation on the right path.

This means that he/she must have the ability to deal with the personal interferences such as lack of confidence/self-belief, fear of failure, and/or cultural and societal norms that may be preventing him/her from growing him/herself and the business.

Mentoring is critical for long-term sustainable growth as it strengthens personal leadership, drives business growth, which leads to the needed economic and social development.

While the ecosystem is still developing, unemployment and sustainable economic development still continue to be one of this region’s and the world’s greatest challenges.

Kathleen Bury is CEO of Mowgli Mentoring.

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