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Exploring the impact of voluntary business mentoring on young entrepreneurs

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Equipping the entrepreneurs of tomorrow

Young entrepreneurs are vital to global economic development. They are helping to shape the economies of the future, to ensure sustainable growth and to guarantee prosperity in both their home countries and further afield. But with millions of unemployed young people around the world, their potential is going unrealised. 

This incredible rate of growth of mentoring in the network has ensured we have a rich and diverse range of programmes and experience to draw on. It also means that now is the time to reflect on how far we have come, and what we will need to do to support the next stage of mentoring development. 

The value of mentorship

We define voluntary business mentoring as personalised support that helps young entrepreneurs develop their abilities and insights as they start and grow their own business.

Through one-to-one, bespoke support, mentees are able to access skills and resources, develop their leadership abilities and foster professional connections. A good mentoring relationship will also help young people develop confidence and resilience, better equipping them to navigate the challenges of today's rapidly changing job market. 

Exploring the impact of voluntary business mentoring

In 2015 we set out to understand what works in mentoring, not only in terms of business development but also personal development. The two-year research project, which involved over 1,600 in-depth interviews with mentees and mentors, tracked the impact of mentoring in two phases. By the end we found nearly three-quarters (74%) of young entrepreneurs were more confident in running their business and 72% felt they had stronger decision-making skills through the support of their mentors. Personal levels of confidence also grew during the programme, by the end 71% of entrepreneurs felt they had learned significantly more about their personal strengths and development areas. 

Researchers from Middlesex University Business School and the Centre for Enterprise and Economic Development Research (CEEDR) spoke to members in 42 countries, sending out surveys to establish the mentoring landscape. They then chose eight countries and over two phases conducted the in-depth interviews.

The research explores young people's business start-ups and development, as well as their personal development and entrepreneurial journeys.

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