Created by the JSE-listed diversified real estate investment trust Redefine Properties and hosted by the venerable Marc Wainer, the show which is currently being rebroadcast, challenges industry titans to fuel entrepreneurial mentoring activities and contribute to making a meaningful difference in the development of young entrepreneurs.
The show seeks to entrench a culture of mentorship in a skills-scarce South Africa by challenging business leaders from corporate South Africa to pledge personal time to mentor budding entrepreneurs. The show’s online platform provides the real estate for the mentors and mentees to engage and schedule time together.
The show expected a modest outcome - 100 mentors pledging a total of 500 hours to a base of 1 000 mentees. At the end of season one, just shy of 200 mentors had signed up exceeding the initial target, collectively pledging over 5 000 hours between them.
“We ended up exceeding our own expectations, we have just under 2 700 mentees applying for mentorship,” says Marijke Coetzee, Head of Marketing and Communications, Redefine Properties.
“Many of us can identify at least one individual, be it a teacher, a colleague or even a family member who made a positive impact, the one who believed you could be better and encouraged you to achieve your potential. The Mentorship Challenge was born from that strong desire to tap into this potential amongst the youth by offering necessary guidance and support – filling a gap that not even formal education provides.”
Mentoring offers the mentor an extraordinary opportunity to contribute to a mentee’s professional, business and personal growth by sharing knowledge and experience.
“Millennials in the workplace and young entrepreneurs today, are very much influenced by the types of leaders they are able to observe and learn from. To that end, well-matched pairings and a clear purpose has been the cornerstone of this success,” adds Coetzee.
While Global Entrepreneurship Monitor's latest report for South Africa reveals that SA’s entrepreneurial activity is at its highest level since 2013, the Seed Academy’s State of Entrepreneurship results indicate that entrepreneurs are not thriving and dramatically more needs to be done to improve SA’s entrepreneurial ecosystem.
The report further says, having a mentor aligned to the entrepreneur’s business is a key success factor. Few entrepreneurs have mentors through their enterprise supplier development (ESD) programmes yet overwhelmingly those who did, believed that the mentors added significant value to their businesses.
“Entrepreneurs are the economic engines SA needs at this point in time and mentors are one of the most valuable resources to kick start this journey.” says Coetzee in conclusion.
“At minimum, mentorship should be the practice to develop leaders in all spheres of business and we revel in this opportunity to be able to contribute to building South Africa.”
Local business leaders who stepped to pledge and pay it forward included the likes of Taddy Blecher, Trevor Manuel, Lira, Gil Oved, Brian Joffe, Grace Harding, Lebo Gunguluza, Angus Taylor, Judge Bernard Ngoepe, Tebogo Mogashoa, Papama Ramogase, Marc Lubner, Amy Kleinhans, Anthea Ambersley, Zuki Mzozoyana, Ntando Kubheka and Rodney Berman.