Business mentors volunteer to help struggling entrepreneurs

By Terrena Rathanlall

business mentors
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Business mentors are now available to entrepreneurs on the Mentor Hotline, a unique platform that was developed by SME growth specialists Fetola, in collaboration with FNB, to give South African entrepreneurs instant access to free, virtual, one-on-one mentorship from industry mentors.

It was made possible by the generosity of scores of mentors and experts who volunteered their time and knowledge to help businesses survive the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic and become sustainable. Financial consultants from SAICA and ABASA also form a vital part of the mentoring team, providing specialist support to financial and accounting queries.

In the successful pilot programme, more than 100 volunteer business mentors helped 300 small and medium sized enterprises. Now this unique initiative is being rolled out to businesses across the country.

The Mentor Hotline is part of FNB and Fetola’s pledge to support SMEs during the COVID-19 pandemic. For more than 14 years, Fetola have been building businesses that last: Fetola-led initiatives have incubated 710 businesses, resulting in revenue growth of more than R600 million and creating an estimated 4756 new jobs.

Catherine Wijnberg, CEO of Fetola said: “This free service to SMEs and entrepreneurs across the country was made possible with the support of FNB, the incredible army of volunteer mentors and specialist partners SAICA and ABASA.

“Mentor Hotline has already made an impact on hundreds of SMEs and my wish is that together we can do more, and for longer, to save businesses and jobs, making this the good news story for 2020.”

Head of SME Development at FNB, Heather Lowe said, “We recognise the significant impact that COVID-19 has had on the SME sector. Few have experienced a storm such as this before, and now, more than ever, business owners need to be able to draw on the experience, support and expertise of seasoned entrepreneurs and business specialists. We remain committed to providing real help to our SMEs in whatever form we can to ensure their survival and future sustainability.”

Once entrepreneurs register their query on the platform, they will be matched to a volunteer mentor with the relevant skills and expertise. They can choose a communication medium that suits the entrepreneur and mentor, whether it’s via the Mentor Hotline platform, WhatsApp or phone/video call.

The virtual support provides valuable advice on the full range of business challenges and opportunities that business owners are facing during this time. Entrepreneurs have the freedom to choose any topic, including start-up, turnaround strategies, finance and accounting, technology, staff and people management, sales and marketing, compliance and legislation.

One entrepreneur who used the platform, Mpho Mokoenene, had this to say: “My mentor answered queries I hadn’t even asked. It’s a great system – I would rate him a 10! The mentor went above and beyond to reach out to me and assist me.”

To access a mentor or find out more, go to Fetola’s website.

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