Many emerging enterprises in our rural areas lack adequate support structures and capacity to grow their businesses. While there are a number of business training programmes, not many provide mentorship support afterwards. Open Africa identified this as a key need on many routes and decided to design a programme that could address this at a local level.
The mentorship programme is designed to partner established and experienced entrepreneurs with emerging businesses to allow skills and knowledge to be transferred. Currently the programme is being piloted on two routes in the Northern Cape. The Richtersveld and Kalahari Red Dune Routes were the first to take on the programme and even though it has only been running since January 2014, impact is already evident.
After six months the average increase in turnover among the mentee businesses is 43%, clearly indicating that the programme is impactful. The entrepreneurs are showing increased levels of confidence and some have managed to secure financing or funding to invest in the growth of their businesses. As a result of the positive impact, Open Africa is now implementing this programme out on a broader scale.
Business mentor, Retha Stadler feels proud to be associated with this project. She feels that they have been able to motivate people to exploit new opportunities. Retha says, “The local entrepreneurs are now identifying opportunities and we are in a better position to help them develop critical skills to manage their businesses through the programme. In five years’ time I hope to sit back and watch how they continue to grow and not only be successful, but have lasting impact.”