Tanzania ICS

The importance of mentors with Echo 7

19th May 2017

Kamwene! (Hello). Mentorship is an essential part of the Livelihoods programme and will help to ensure the success of the entrepreneurs long after the project has finished. Local mentors are people who have already established a successful business. They provide support and advice to the entrepreneurs to help them build a successful business.

Words and photos by Echo 7.

The mentorship programme is vital in providing practical guidance to the entrepreneurs to help turn their ideas into successful and fully operational businesses. As well as improving their own livelihood, this will have a positive knock-on effect on the community’s economy and encourage sustainable development in Kasanga. Mentors also provide an important insight into the commercial network in Kasanga and are in a strong position to give relevant and local advice.

In order to find suitable mentors, we researched the businesses which currently exist in Kasanga and contacted those which we believed would be the most appropriate for our entrepreneurs. Many were interested and more than happy to help even with the pressures of running their own business.

One of our mentors is successful shop owner, Luckson Chatanda, who will delivered a session on the Business Model Canvas (BMC) based on his own enterprise. Luckson and his wife have been running a retail shop and home hardware shop in the centre of Kasanga for the past 15 years. Luckson’s first-hand experience in running a successful and well-established business has gone a long way in inspiring the entrepreneurs to reflect on their own BMC and help bring their ideas to life.

Luckson presenting his BMC
Luckson presenting his BMC

An interview with Luckson allowed us to get a further insight into his personal view on mentorship. When starting up his first shop, he had to rely on advice from friends and family as he didn’t have access to an experienced mentor. He advised our entrepreneurs to be patient when starting a new business as things do not always go to plan and remain persistent when facing new challenges. He stressed the importance of creativity and maintaining strong customer relations as a way to stay ahead of competitors. Luckson also recommended that our entrepreneurs ensure their business ideas are viable and relevant to Kasanga. When asked about any potential challenges he might face being a mentor, Luckson said “advising those that don’t have much experience and making them believe they can be successful”.

Faraja showing a member of the team around her dairy farm
Faraja showing a member of the team around her dairy farm

Our second mentor is Faraja Mgonela who is in her third year of running successful dairy business. The East African Dairy Development (EADD), Raleigh’s project partner in Tanzania, provided her with specialist knowledge regarding animal health and the methods of improving the quality of milk produced. Faraja’s advice for the entrepreneurs wanting to set up a milk production business included investing in good cows capable of producing larger quantities of milk. She also recommends to have well-built cow sheds as well as good farm land in order to cultivate high quality cow feed.

As well as using local business owners to impart their knowledge, Echo 7 have been working with the entrepreneurs and offering support on a daily basis. Regular one to one’s have allowed us to measure our entrepreneur’s personal development throughout the course and help them with any aspects they might be finding more challenging. With a combination of support and guidance from the mentors and the programme we are confident the entrepreneurs have a great chance of securing funding to help them start their business.

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