In a recent report by Harvard Business Review, 45 prominent founders who had benefited from the support of mentors were surveyed. It turns out that 84% of them avoid costly mistakes and became proficient in their role, 69% said mentors helped them make better decisions, and 71% reported improved company performance. If renowned business leaders can account for these growth metrics because of the impact of mentors, it is also a direct indication for emerging startup founders to prioritize mentorship.
Earlier in 2022, VC4A partnered with Ventures Park, Rising Tide Africa, Abuja Angel Network, and She Leads Africa to execute the 5th edition of its mentor-driven capital (MDC) program in Nigeria, as part of the Work in Progress! Alliance project. The goal is to capacitate startup mentors with some experience to boost their mentoring skills to better support promising Nigerian startup founders
What MDC2022 brought to the mentors and mentees
In this year’s edition, 21 mentors were successfully paired with 21 startup founders for a period of 3 months. Mentors were selected based on their level of experience, expertise, skills, and knowledge of mentoring a startup. Over the course of the program, industry experts like Biola Abiodun (serial entrepreneur and board member of Lagos Angel Network) and Simeon Ononobi (CEO and founder of ThankUCash) were brought in to educate and encourage mentors during the program. Each session was an eye opener to some opportunities they were missing out on, and better ways to connect with their founder, and actively walk towards the goals ahead. These expert sessions were complemented by peer-learning sessions, where the mentors brought in and discussed mentor-related challenges between themselves.
After a little more than 3 months the program came to an end with a closing session at Lagos Startup Week. During the closing session, participants shared their experiences and key takeaways. It would be a surprise if all went as planned, but the remarkable thing about this year’s mentor-founder relationship is how both parties moved beyond their challenges by actively found middle ground.
Experienced investor and entrepreneur Folabi Esan joined the group to share thoughts on business communications and problem-solving approaches. Here are a few takeaways from the session:
- If you find yourself in a business hole, stop digging (pause all activities and seek help).
- Having a mentor when starting your business makes your journey to success shorter.
- As a mentor, if you introduce a founder to very important figures in the ecosystem, make sure you do due diligence to know if they are performing based on what is needed and pay attention to details
- The infighting between founders can ruin a startup’s life. A conflict between co-founders can ruin a business if they can not trust and communicate effectively with one another.
After his session, mentors like Adanma Onuegbu passionately shared what the journey has been for her. During the program, she was matched with a startup founder of the agribusiness logistics company Kennie O Cold Chain Logistics. With her expertise, the startup was able to finalize registration, increased sales, strengthened the market position and won a grant of $50,000. Andanma and the founder Ope plan to continue the mentor relationship for the coming period.
Thomas Van Halen, representing the VC4A team, anchored the closing session and led the final part of the session where completion certificates and final words of appreciation were shared. Thomas closed off by stressing the importance for founders to stay in the driver’s seat. As much as mentors can provide great advice, guidance and connections, it’s eventually to the founder to make the most of this and use it for the advantage of their businesses.
Also in 2023, VC4A is planning to organize the Mentor-Driven Capital program in Nigeria. Stay tuned on the VC4A platform for further information. Also, for anyone, either founder or mentor, who is keen to find more mentorship opportunities, the VC4A mentorship marketplace is a great place to continue the mentorship journey.