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

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