Planned mentoring key to successful entrepreneurship, business experts

Proper nurturing and timely interventions may foster a culture of entrepreneurship and give rise fruitful ventures, reports Prachi Rege.

Last Updated: Oct 03, 2013, 00:30 AM IST

Proper nurturing and timely interventions may foster a culture of entrepreneurship and give rise fruitful ventures, reports Prachi Rege.

Mentoring should be a planned process and interventions must be held at regular intervals to guide young entrepreneurs, observed a panel of experts participating in the recently concluded Learning Event of Young Entrepreneurs 2013.

Young entrepreneurs who were either running their own venture, or were trying to start one, faced two major hurdles—access to finance and good mentoring. The panel discussed these two crucial aspects that make or mar an entrepreneurial spirit. The event was organised by the International Youth Foundation (IYF) in association with MasterCard and the Community Collective Society for Integrated Development (CCFID).

During the first session the panelists addressed the importance of finance and the challenges that young entrepreneurs face to secure financial capital. The reason for the lack of access to financial resources was the eligibility of an entrepreneur to secure a bank loan. It was also lack of knowledge about other sources of finance like—micro finance and venture capitalists, they opined.

Samapti Guha, associate professor, TISS, who teaches at the Centre for Social Entrepreneurship mentioned that her Centre helped its graduates, during the first three years, to secure substantial capital for launching their pilot project. Traditional, social and economic mindsets were hindering setting up of innovative projects. "Parents don`t encourage their children to become entrepreneurs. A job is considered to be a secure option," she observed. Vishal Puri, manager, Birla Sun life Insurance, also spoke.

Lack of essential documentation was another issue. Seventy percent of young Indians did not have a birth certificate or other essential documents like address proof, resumes or personal credit history, Rama Shyam, co-founder & director, Society for Awareness, Harmony & Equal Rights (SAHER), stated. Which was why they were denied loans or financial help.

Mentoring played a pivotal role, the panelists said. Mentoring was not casual advising but a serious job of intervention. "Mentors must earn respect from their protégés. They should not talk down to them and show off their knowledge," said Mrinalini Kher, secretary, Yuva Parivartan. More than seventy per cent of the dropouts in the country hadn’t completed their Class X. Besides education they also lacked soft skills. Good mentors were needed to develop entrepreneurial as well as soft skills, she added.

Mahendra Gamare, programme and training manager, Women’s Economic Development Corporation, stated that the concept of mentoring was indigenous to the Indian culture. Young entrepreneurs needed someone to look up to and gain confidence in what he/she was going to do, he said. Gamare who started off as an office boy, today trains villagers to become economically independent.

Both Kher and Gamare agreed on the need for peer mentoring, which means mentoring by a young and successful entrepreneur. "Similarity in problems and challenges faced will help in encouraging and building confidence in the aspiring entrepreneur," explained Kher.

An ideal mentor must possess:

1.Good experience and domain knowledge

2.Good relationship with the protégé

3.Excellent leadership skill

4.Deal with a problem or issue from the protégé’s point of view

5.Understand the social, cultural and economical background of the protégé

6.Commit to two to three years of mentoring in the initial stages of the venture

7.Help protégé through good and bad times

8.Be available for guidance at any given time

9.Shadow the young entrepreneur and give him/her the right push

Mentor should not:

1) Portray a holier than thou attitude

2) Overkill the enthusiasm by giving advise when not required

3) Putting restrictions on out-of-the-box thinking