When we are in pain or experiencing discomfort, we usually go to the hospital to consult doctors to find out what is wrong. We needed someone to tell us what we should do to feel better. Same goes with mentoring. Mentors are the doctors who can advise micro and small entrepreneurs on what should be their next step to scale up.
During the last Filipina Summit, we integrated the mentoring session as an important part of the summit. We felt that with our continuous effort to promote mentorship as an essential part of an entrepreneur’s journey, it is a must to have the largest one-on-one mentoring session at the same venue. The summit was, of course, a mentoring session, but this time, we had a mentoring café which became a hub for both mentors and mentees.
Around 200 mentors from all over the country with expertise in different areas of entrepreneurship gave them time and effort to guide aspiring participants and micro and small entrepreneurs who lined up and waited for their chance to be mentored. I was told that aside from the registration area for the summit, the lines for the mentoring session was so long that they had to manage the crowd.
I asked some of our mentors to share some of their experiences at our first mentoring café.
Rex Daryanani, president of the Indian Chamber of the Philippines, shared that he had four mentees who came from different backgrounds. One was a student who wanted to start her own business. Another one was a wife of a fisherman, then another was an entrepreneur who wanted to innovate and be different, and the last was a service provider to large companies.
Rex said, “I truly realized for the first time that a one-on-one mentoring is the most enriching and fulfilling experience for a mentor. It is way better than just talking to a big crowd because one is able to tailor the advice to the specific needs of the mentee.”
Mentor couple Jorge and Jenny Wieneke also shared their experience at the mentoring session. For Jenny, it was a wonderful experience to hear stories of women hungry for mentoring and learning. Jorge, on the other hand, has always been a mentor for the past years during summits. He is always willing to be of help to the mentees he meets even after the summit. Like the past mentees, he has become a long time mentor and a friend to all of them.
For mentor Anne Francisco of Ferino’s Bibingka, mentoring shed a light of encouragement for mentees. One of her mentees is a professional employee turned entrepreneur and has a thriving peanut butter business in Central Luzon. She said that the mentee cannot add volume to their production because of lack of funds. Anne then informed her to get loans from banks with lower interest rates for MSMEs. She also advised the mentee to properly document tax regulation and other local government permits so she can present it to the banks upon request for loans.
Majella Villaroman, one of our pioneer mentors in agriculture, met two mentees who have the resources to start an agribusiness. With their land properties, Majella introduced agri business models. She said, “It stimulated their ideas on how to start a business and explore growth opportunities.”
For mentor Maylene Navalta, the mentoring session validated the action taken by the mentees. All they needed was someone to guide them to focus on what needs to be done.
Butz Bartolome said, “Mentorship has gone a long way. There is openness in reaching out for assistance.”
All these were justifications of how mentorship is important for our micro and small entrepreneurs.
One of the participants messaged me on Facebook, “I just dropped by to say congratulations to the success of the Filipina Entrepreneurship Summit last March 6 and thank you very much for making it free for teachers like me. I’m looking forward to your next activities. I’m also done reading your book about 21 Steps (on How to Start Your Own Business) and I also want to thank you for writing such an easy to understand book. Now I am more encouraged to pursue my entrep dream. Continue to be a blessing to every Filipino. God Bless.”
Messages like this fuels our drive to continue and pursue the advocacy more. It ignites our spirit to empower more Filipinos to become enterprising and entrepreneurial. It stirs our desire to do more, and do better.
We will soon roll out more one-on-one mentoring sessions nationwide with the help of our partners.