The Inspiring Journey of a Young Man from being a Mentee into Becoming a Mentor
As I continue to share more on mentorship, I realized that one element that is missing is a real life case study of how much one has benefitted through mentorship and how this has transformed their business.
Ndabenhle Vilakati is a young entrepreneur who is very passionate about business. He is in the meat production and selling business. He loves farming hence he decided to make a living out of that. As a young entrepreneur, he decided to seek mentorship for him to be able to turn his business into a real enterprise. Today, Ndabenhle is one of Junior Achievement (JA) Swaziland’s most trusted mentors who has assisted groom some of the most successful enterprises that has been produced by Junior Achievement.
Interviewing this young man, lead to the realisation that he is a mentor today because he realised the value of mentorship in his own life which gave him the zeal to persevere in pursuing his business even when difficulties threatened its survival. “My journey as a mentee began when I joined the first group of a competition known as Believe, Begin Become which was established by Technoserve. Through the mentorship I received, I became more exposed to what real life business was as opposed to the academic knowledge that I had. Undergoing mentorship provided an opportunity for me to tackle real life challenges using the wisdom shared by my mentor which was based on real life experiences. I realised that having a mentor brought about a sense of relief to me as I was aware that when I encountered challenges in setting up my business, I had an experienced individual ready to assist in my journey. Looking back today, I realise that without mentorship, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” said Ndabenhle.
When JA Swaziland began recruiting mentors back in 2014, Ndabenhle was one of the first young entrepreneurs who rose up to the challenge and wanted to assist share his experiences with other young people. He became a perfect fit for JA Swaziland as young peo- ple could relate to him and were also inspired by his life story as he was able to overcome the challenges of setting up his business and a result his business has taken shape due to his resilience.
“The decision for me to become a mentor was made based on the fact that I could not miss out on an opportunity to be a part of transforming the lives of fellow young Swazi people.
My experiences starting up a business made me a valid candidate to also share and motivate young people that it was possible to start from scratch yet be able to build a real enterprise. Having a mentor motivated me therefore having the same opportunity to be able to do the same for someone else was a sacrifice I was willing to make. I am very much motivated to continue the work that I do as a mentor when I see ideas become real life projects. It is one thing to have a concept on paper, however to actually see that idea take shape in real life is truly an amazing feeling and becoming a part of that can only be an amazing experience.
I also keep contact with the young people I mentor even post the six months period that we usually work with at JA Swaziland. This allows me to follow up on progress with the young people and get to determine if they are making progress in their businesses. I have to admit that I have been impressed with a lot of the young people I have worked with as they have succeeded beyond my expectations,” he said.
Ndabenhle is a very dedicated mentor. Through his guidance, a lot of young people have been able to realise their entrepreneurial ambitions. Some of the most successful entre- preneurs at Junior Achievement Swaziland accredit their success to Ndabenhle.
One young man who was able to start his business with only E20 .00 capital says he would not be where he is if it was not for Ndabehle. Raymond Khumalo started a carpentry business at BOSSCO Skills Centre with capital so little that he was only able to print a few posters to advertise his business. He had found an angel investor who had provided him with a space and equipment to operate in and had not stopped ever since. Today, Khumalo’s business has grown, in such a way that the least revenue that he makes each month amounts to E10 000.00. “I do not think I would be where I am today if I did not have Ndabenhle as a mentor. I am convinced that he is not a mentor for any other reason except the fact that he is genuinely interested in transforming young lives. His impact has positively made an impact in my life,” he said.
The value of having Ndabenhle as a mentor has really transformed the lives of young people. He is also part of the panel of judges who are involved in the judging process at the JA Swaziland National Expo which produces a team of young people that end up representing Swaziland at the regional competition. Again, JA Swaziland is extremely grateful to Ndabenhle’s contribution at this forum as it has been vital in identifying teams that have excelled at regional competition as well. JA