Mara Mentor launches in SA to assist young entrepreneurs

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South Africa’s National Youth Development Agency (NYDA) and social enterprise Mara Foundation have partnered to launch Mara Mentor in the country, a platform designed to assist young entrepreneurs by connecting them with mentorship.

Mara Mentor, an initiative of the Mara Foundation, first launched in Ghana in September of last year, and is an online community connecting ambitious entrepreneurs with experienced business leaders.

The aim of the initiative is to encourage idea and knowledge sharing among Africa’s most talented young entrepreneurs, stimulating a collaborative approach to starting and growing businesses.

Using Mara Mentor, young South African entrepreneurs are able to brainstorm, raise questions, launch discussions and build their networks with individuals such as Basetsana Kumalo, executive chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of Basetsana Woman Investment Holdings, Khanyisile Kweyama, executive director of Anglo American, and Bob Diamond, founder and non-executive Director of Atlas Mara.

NYDA executive chairperson Yershen Pillay said mentorship was an integral part of youth development and the NYDA was proud to partner in what he described as a “vital and exciting cyberspace initiative”.

“The NYDA e-monitoring programme powered by Mara Mentor will serve as a community where young people not only develop business expertise, but also learn important life skills by connecting with their peers and mentors,” he said.

Ashish Thakkar, founder of the Mara Foundation, said technology is the key to unlocking the potential of entrepreneurs in South Africa.

“We want to seize the opportunity presented by the proliferation of mobile phones on the continent, to provide more young people with the expert advice that they need to launch and grow their businesses,” he said.

“I know that for entrepreneurs at the start of their journey, fear of failure can be a very real obstacle to their progress. For me, the best way to overcome that fear is to access guidance from real business experts. That is why we have developed Mara Mentor – the tool that every entrepreneur needs in their pocket.”

Interested entrepreneurs can sign up for the e-mentoring initiative at any of the NYDA’s 14 branches or 178 local youth offices, or through the NYDA, call centre, website and social media platforms.

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Passionate about the vibrant tech startups scene in Africa, Tom can usually be found sniffing out the continent's most exciting new companies and entrepreneurs, funding rounds and any other developments within the growing ecosystem.

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