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Bridging the Advice Gap through a Structured Approach to Mentorship

Updated: Oct 18, 2023

In today's digital age, advice is in abundance. With the internet and social media, self-proclaimed experts share wisdom on various aspects of life, inundating us with advice on personal wellness, investment strategies, entrepreneurship, and more. You can find countless blogs, YouTube channels, podcasts, and online forums dedicated to offering guidance. For instance, there are blogs and websites where self-made millionaires share their secrets to financial success, fitness enthusiasts offering advice on achieving the perfect physique, and business influencers sharing their strategies for entrepreneurial triumph. This holds particularly true in the realm of enterprise development, where advice serves as a bridge between aspiring entrepreneurs and the capital they need. However, amid this deluge of advice from blogs, online forums, and self-help gurus, a pressing issue emerges: the quality of advice. Well-intentioned yet misguided counsel often hinders more than it helps. To address this challenge head-on, we - Bangladesh Youth Enterprise Advice and Helpcentre (BYEAH)- are creating a mentoring guide to facilitate the journey for seasoned business professionals who want to give back to the community through volunteer mentoring.

In our journey of supporting mentors and mentees, we have encountered a significant challenge. Without a mentoring guide, the entrepreneurial landscape becomes a daunting terrain to navigate. Imagine a scenario where aspiring entrepreneurs lack a reliable compass, leaving them susceptible to seemingly well-intentioned yet misguided advice that often results in setbacks rather than success. This problem is exacerbated by the conventional transactional models of mentorship, where mentors often gain higher status, and mentees receive insufficient guidance. These transactional models can take various forms: sometimes, mentors provide advice that is prescriptive, inaccurate, or irrelevant, hindering the mentee's progress. In other cases, mentorship can be unhelpful when a mentor senses potential competition or holds biases that hinder the mentee's growth. For instance, there are situations where a relative may not want a female entrepreneur in the family business due to traditional or prejudiced reasons. These biases within mentorship relationships can further perpetuate disparities within the entrepreneurial ecosystem. The result is a mentorship dynamic that falls short of its transformative potential, leaving both parties without the full benefits of this relationship. The quality of advice becomes inconsistent, further impeding the growth of young entrepreneurs. Furthermore, access to mentorship becomes a privilege, further marginalizing those who need it most. The absence of a structured mentoring guide leaves the potential for personal and professional development untapped, ultimately contributing to disparities within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Hence, our vision of youth empowerment through mentoring tries to improve upon traditional mentorship models, where mentors prescribe actions for mentees to follow. We believe in mentorship as a dynamic, open-ended, and transformational relationship. Mentorship should nurture potential, not impose a one-size-fits-all formula. Our mentoring guide encourages mentors to transcend transactions and build connections that foster profound personal and professional growth.

Acknowledging mentorship as multifaceted, demanding a diverse guide of skills and strategies, we have set a clear goal for our mentoring guide: to provide mentors with the resources and knowledge to navigate the complexities of mentorship successfully. This guide empowers mentors to be effective guides, steadfast supporters, and passionate advocates for the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Our journey in creating the mentoring guide aims to address crucial issues in the realm of business advice and mentorship:

  1. Our foremost goal is to raise the quality of advice for young entrepreneurs. Guiding principles and best practices ensure that counsel is not just well-intentioned but well-informed, leading to entrepreneurial success.

  2. Mentorship should be transformative, not transactional. Our guide cultivates mentorship relationships that lead to profound personal and professional development.

  3. Access to quality mentorship has yet to be equitable for small and growing businesses in Bangladesh. Our guide equips mentors to empower entrepreneurs from diverse backgrounds, regardless of rural or urban settings.

Who Benefits from Our Mentoring Guide? Our guide caters to a diverse audience, united by the goal of nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit:

  • Experienced Business Professionals with industry knowledge will find the guide invaluable in becoming effective mentors and contributing to the next generation of entrepreneurs.

  • Under-resourced young and women entrepreneurs, our primary beneficiaries, will gain access to well-informed and transformational mentorship, enhancing their entrepreneurial journey.

  • Organizations and institutions supporting entrepreneurship can use the guide to enhance mentorship programs and contribute to regional economic development.

  • Advocates of equality who are working tirelessly to reduce disparities in mentorship and business advice will discover a potent resource to level the playing field for young entrepreneurs.

Our journey to create a mentoring guide is driven by an unwavering commitment to empower the next generation of enterprising youths in Bangladesh. We recognize that in today's digital age, where advice is abundant yet often of varying quality, there is a crucial need to equip aspiring youths with the tools to navigate this vast sea of advice effectively. Our mentoring guide aims to serve as one such tool, offering guidance on discerning between good, bad, and indifferent advice, and helping young entrepreneurs find valuable insights amidst the noise. By addressing advice inequality, fostering transformational mentorship, and bridging access disparities, we aim to create a ripple effect, positively impacting the region's entrepreneurial ecosystem. Together, we nurture a new breed of business leaders poised to seize opportunities in this constantly changing world.

Lastly, in the spirit of mentorship, we heed the wisdom of Steven Spielberg, who once said, 'The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.' This guiding philosophy inspires us to empower, rather than shape, those youth who will chart their own path to success.


About the author

Md. Rashed Mamun is the Executive Director of the Bangladesh Youth Enterprise Advice & Helpcentre (BYEAH), a youth-centered non-profit dedicated to empowering women and youth to become the change agents. With expertise at the crossroads of development, technology, and data in public, private, and development sectors across diverse cultures, his pursuit is to drive impactful initiatives to address pressing challenges and forge a brighter future for communities.

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