Dave Wilson, CEO and co-founder of National Mentorship Movement explains that they mobilise volunteer mentors, connect them to those who could benefit from their support and manage their relationship for period of a year. They talk about Mentorship – the Power of Two, both because of the two people typically involved in a relationship, but also the research which indicates that mentorship doubles outcomes. For example, people are twice as likely to grow their businesses and remain in business longer than five years if they have a mentor, compared to those who don’t.
National Mentorship Movement started after a group of business people were discussing how to address South Africa’s massive unemployment problem and poor entrepreneurial health. They concluded that mentorship at scale to support entrepreneurs and others across the nation could create jobs and greater social trust.
What Dave loves most about running his business is seeing the impact on both their mentors and mentees. At a recent close-out of a programme, they ran with Standard Bank, the mentees reflected on what an impact having a mentor as a sounding board and guide had had on their lives and businesses: “such a positive experience”, “learnt so much”, “enabled me to turn an unordered place into an ordered one”, “I would not be here now if it weren’t for my mentor”. As gratifying as the comments of the mentees were, many of whom reflected how humbling it had been to work with their mentors and how much they had learnt from them, they also discovered that they had more to contribute than they had realised.
One of the biggest lessons Dave has learnt on his business journey is – 5% inspiration 95% perspiration. He says that it is easy to have great ideas but the challenge is turning them into workable solutions and pushing the wheelbarrow every day. He believes that the reason some business owners don’t survive longer than five years is sometimes because they give up just before all the hard work they have put in starts to bear fruit.
When Dave was asked what his ‘Why?’ is, he said, ” I learnt in my career that there is no meaning and purpose if it is all about me.” He shared this quote from Etsko Schuitema: “We are driven by the negative emotions of fear and greed. Better to live in a world where it is all about we, where we can draw on the positive emotions of generosity and courage”.
Dave’s answer to the question, “Why should South Africa support small businesses now and beyond?” was that he feels we need to foster a dynamic small and medium sized business sector. After having lived in Germany, he says that he has seen the power of the Mittelstand and the pride people have in their own small businesses. He has also come across similar signs beginning to emerge in some parts of South Africa in a number of industries. He has found these business owners to be endlessly innovative and continuously focusing on being competitive to survive and grow. In the process he has seen how they have created employment and a culture of self-reliance, both of which he believes to be vital for the future of the nation.
When asked about their experience as a member, they said that they personally experience the value that the NSBC adds to their unrivalled body of members. They can testify that the NSBC pushes its members to take full advantage of what they offer, and that what the NSBC offers is well designed to support their members’ success.