Old Mutual’s Eight2Five Innovation Hub launched their first edition of the Virtual Speed Mentoring initiative late last month, marking the first step in supporting young entrepreneurs with much-needed guidance from experts with knowledge, experience and connections in the business community.
Eight2Five is an Innovation Hub powered by Old Mutual, which partners with entrepreneurs to achieve a shared vision of solving real-world and business problems through technology.
With the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic and the challenges that came with it, it is an opportune time to reflect on why and how mentoring can support young entrepreneurs to reach their full potential.
Over 71 million young people are unemployed globally.
The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has shown that social protection systems will fail on a global scale to safeguard the lives and livelihoods of most vulnerable groups, including informal workers.
The potential of young people is not being realised and in a rapidly evolving economic environment, supporting young people to become entrepreneurs, think entrepreneurially and acquire entrepreneurial skills is a powerful way to respond and step into “the gap.”
Under the theme “Collaborative Growth,” the hub is exhibiting its passion for entrepreneurship development, business excellence and mentorship of young innovative leaders.
“The Eight2Five Speed Mentoring initiative aims to get young and aspiring entrepreneurs to reach out to established business people as mentors. The budding entrepreneur calls the number set up by the Hub.
“They are then put in contact with a potential mentor who they spent an initial five minutes with, going through what the business challenges they face and what they are looking for in a mentor in line with the kind of business they have. The Mentor and Mentee will then be able to communicate and possibly solidify their Mentor/ Mentee relationship if they ‘gelled’ in the five-minute conversation,” according to Anesu Mutasa, the Innovation Manager for Old Mutual.
Virtual Speed Mentoring design is based on the speed-dating concept and it has proven to be an effective method of beginning a mentoring journey. There were 50 selected professional mentors, made up of experts, company CEO’s, thought-leaders, managing directors and other professionals.
Said Mr Mutasa: “Getting a mentor is a good place to start when needing guidance and seeking growth. An event like speed mentoring is a quick way to ignite a potential mentor and mentee relationship.”
The Eight2Five Speed Mentoring initiative recently launched a two hour-long session event via a call center mobile application connecting entrepreneurs from across Zimbabwe and beyond its borders. Each mentee had five minutes with a mentor picked at random by the Call Centre application.
The mentors received the calls through a universal line linked to a mobile application that was downloadable on all iOS and Android devices. With the new app, the mentors could take calls from anywhere around the world, giving mentees and mentors the convenience of interacting from wherever they were.
“We had good participation from mentees, and the switchboard was busy for the entire two-hour duration of the event with fruitful discussions taking place. Some mentors will continue the mentoring relationships with the mentees going forward because they recognized the real potential in some of these budding entrepreneurs,” said Mr Mutasa.
The Eight2Five innovation hub is keen to explore the benefits offered by this initiative and platform, and will continue to look at ways to expand the programme and the information is contained on www.eight2five.co.zw .