Stellenbosch Network Opens Programme to Upskill Local Entrepreneurs

Applications are now open for the Stellenbosch Network Entrepreneurial Mentorship Programme – an eight-month initiative aimed at supporting and upskilling budding business owners. The Programme  will equip them with extensive coaching and guidance from experienced businesspeople, who can help them improve their management abilities and grow their businesses.

Now in its second year, the Programme will see applicants matched with qualified mentors based on their individual needs, says Hanli Brink, Operations Manager at Stellenbosch Network – an organisation working to develop knowledge and innovation in the greater Stellenbosch-area. “Feedback received from our previous initiatives indicates that entrepreneurs who frequently engage with a mentor develop better decision-making skills. They also tend to feel more inspired to tackle the various challenges associated with starting one’s own business and the feelings of isolation, which many people feel when pursuing entrepreneurship, are reduced.”

With entrepreneurs needing to dedicate most of their time to the day-to-day running of their business, the Programme represents a practical solution for business owners who are unable to engage in more structured training programmes. In doing so, mentors and mentees can dictate their own interactions, making the mentorship experience a time-efficient way to learn.

From start to end, participants of the Programme will receive two hours of mentee training, where attendees will be given further clarity on their role and that of the mentor. They will also learn about the benefits and possible outcomes of mentorship opportunities, along with how to build trust; the various contracting and ethical dilemmas that may arise, as well as how to prepare for the mentorship relationship. Following this, participants will be invited to a two-hour match-making session. Once mentors and mentees have been paired, they will receive at least 12 hours of mentoring support over the nine-month period.

For Faeeza Arnolds, a mentee from the 2020 batch of participants, the Programme was a boost to both her own wellbeing and that of her business. “My mentor sent me motivational messages for my emotional well-being, especially during the lockdown period, and also helped me organise my daily activities to be more effective in managing my time between family and business. Over and above all this, she gave me advice on how to use social media to market my business and improved the process of how I purchase and deliver stock.”

Meanwhile, Corné Oosthuizen – a mentor from last year’s Programme – found that he too learnt a lot during the course of the mentorship. “The lockdown forced my mentee’s business to change quite a lot and there were many options to consider. As a result, we would often discuss what would be best for the business, and this way, were able to find ways to weather the storm. By using me as a sounding board, I learnt more about the struggles faced by other entrepreneurs and discovered new ways of dealing with difficult decisions.”

To participate in the Programme, eligible applicants must:

·         Be a full-time owner of a business that has been operating for at least 12 months, not employing more than 15 people and with a maximum annual turnover of R1.5 million.

·         Not be in the employment of another company while running their current business and have no previous management education at tertiary level.

·         Be a South African citizen aged 23 years or older, with a Grade 12 school-leaving certificate (although applications may be looked at on a case-by-case basis if applicants have not completed Matric/Grade 12).

·         Be proficient in English and live or work in the Stellenbosch or Franschhoek area. They must also be willing and available to receive at least 12 hours mentoring support for the duration of the Programme.

·         Be able to travel to training sessions at Stellenbosch University, Stellenbosch. (Please note that accommodation is not provided.)

Applications for the Stellenbosch Network Entrepreneurial Mentorship Programme close on 1 March 2021. To apply, please complete and submit the application form to hanli@stellenboschnetwork.co.za along with the relevant documentation, which can be downloaded here.

Please note that this application form is one of the most important documents used by the Stellenbosch Network to evaluate your suitability for the programme. Final selection is at the discretion of the Stellenbosch Network Entrepreneurial Mentorship Programme Selection Committee.

About Stellenbosch Network:

The Stellenbosch Network is a cross sector and inter-disciplinary organisation that brings people together – from industry, government, society and academia – to stimulate connections, collaboration and partnerships in support of inclusive economic growth for the Stellenbosch area and surrounds.

For more information, go to www.stellenboschnetwork.co.za

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