Lots of entrepreneurs, artists, and politicians would not be where they are now if they had not been mentored one way or another during the development of their careers.
Not everything can be learned at school, on the internet, or by reading the right books. All of those things may be helpful, of course, but sometimes the best way to advance in life is to learn directly from a more experienced person – a mentor.
In many countries, including in Rwanda, companies, organisations and schools are now promoting ‘mentorship’ as a way of helping young people find their way in life, and build their careers. Mentoring programmes are being implemented everywhere. But what does mentoring actually mean?
Initially, when I started looking at this topic, I had a very different idea of what mentoring was. I thought it was related to psychology or to counseling a person in need of help. However, ever since I joined the Three Mountains team, and started to work on one of their courses called Mentoring, my understanding and perspective changed.
While out on a field visit as part of our work on CARE Rwanda’s DEAL project, one of my colleagues took footage in which local women in remote, rural areas of the country, explained how mentorship had changed their lives, and the ways they were running their businesses.
One of the women, Mrs. Uwingabire had gotten connected with her mentor when they met while she was selling sorghum and sorghum beer, a drink found in most rural communities in Rwanda. After their sessions, ……………. Uwingabire set herself certain goals that she wanted to achieve in order to improve her business. She managed to grow her business in just six months and was able to open a small shop.
I was really astonished by the confidence and the happiness she showed us as she recounted the story of her journey to success, and her hopes for a better future. Although she is still a mentee, I was amazed by her willingness to share her experiences about what she had learned from her mentor.
I have chosen this example from the many stories we have to demonstrate how working on that mentoring course has opened up my eyes and changed my understanding of the concept of mentorship.
We are still developing this course on mentoring but it will be ready to deliver soon. The course is specially designed for women in remote areas of Rwanda, and it aims to provide them with the key basics of mentoring. I’m happy to report that there is a Kinyarwanda language version so that people can access the material in their mother tongue.
A great thanks are due to CARE Rwanda which has chosen this ‘mentoring’ approach as a way of increasing the confidence and business skills of these women entrepreneurs. Those women who are mentees today have the chance to be a mentor for someone else in the future.
Mentoring is not just limited to the business sector. I now know that it can be used in all kinds of different areas of life: in education, in professional careers, in parenting, in leadership development and even in religion. I have also been mentored – as an intern at Three Mountains – and it has helped me to learn how to become a better content developer, a more capable woman in my career and a better version of myself.
Benjamin Disraeli once said “The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches, but to reveal to them their own riches. ”