New online tool connects entrepreneurs in Africa with business experts from across the world
As of this week, entrepreneurs looking for advice to grow their business in Africa get direct access to a pool of dedicated mentors, while Africans living in the diaspora and business experts from around the world are now able to get directly involved with venture creation and provide critical feedback to promising entrepreneurs across the African continent.
VC4Africa (Venture Capital for Africa), Africa’s largest entrepreneur and investor community, is launching VC4Africa’s ‘Mentorship Marketplace’: a vibrant and transparent peer-to-peer marketplace where entrepreneurs can add ‘mentor requests’ that are visible, searchable and actionable by a pool of registered mentors.
The objective of the Mentorship Marketplace is to assist promising entrepreneurs in establishing and building great companies. David van Dijk, Head of Entrepreneurship Development at VC4Africa: “When an entrepreneur faces a challenge we are convinced there are members within the VC4Africa network who have the answers and are willing to lend their insight, expertise and experience.” The Mentor Marketplace draws on an international network of business experts that dedicate their time, network and expertise free of charge. After a match is made through the platform the dialogue between Mentor and Entrepreneur continues via whichever channel is most suitable for them (email, phone, Skype, messenger, etc.).
To place a request the entrepreneur has to have a good (draft) business plan and related documents, and have a clear challenge that is well defined and measurable. For entrepreneurs who are still in the earlier stages and not yet ready to receive a mentor, VC4Africa hosts a growing number of self-help tools like business plan templates and the VC4Africa Questions & Answers service.
Before the new online marketplace, VC4Africa already encouraged its members to support one another via its dedicated mentorship group, started in 2011. The program has developed over the last two years into the service it is today. Bill Zimmerman, CoFounder of VC4Africa explains, “The new service is designed to help organize the supply and demand from across the community. Most importantly, the tool recognizes people’s participation and we are continually looking at ways we can recognize members for their contributions.”
Entrepreneur David Amakobe, who used VC4Africa’s mentoring services to negotiate with a large buyer of African produce says, “We are very happy with the mentoring service provided by VC4Africa and do recommend that all the entrepreneurs listing their ventures should try it, you may discover that you could generate the funding you need by yourselves!” Entrepreneur Gilles Ajavon, who used VC4Africa’s mentoring services for his venture and was recently invited to pitch at last year’s Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Dubai explains, “My venture Ujamaa is a proof that VC4Africa’s mentorship program works!”
VC4Africa’s research shows 45% of Africa’s entrepreneurs who registered on VC4Africa are looking for mentorship. 20% of the members have currently engaged in VC4Africa’s mentorship activities.
Both entrepreneurs and mentors are encouraged to sign up and make use of VC4Africa’s Mentorship Marketplace.