SMEs      MOWGLI, ON MENTORSHIP IN THE MIDDLE EAST     Mowgli     On Mentorship in the Middle East     With unemployment i...
MOWGLI, ON MENTORSHIP IN THE MIDDLE EAST                   SMEs                                                           ...
SMEs       MOWGLI, ON MENTORSHIP IN THE MIDDLE EAST     However, becoming a successful entrepreneur in the          Figure...
MOWGLI, ON MENTORSHIP IN THE MIDDLE EAST                      SMEs               The greatest thing that one human being c...
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Tharawat Article: Mowgli, On Mentorship in the Middle East

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With unemployment in the MENA region rising and now standing at 10.3%, the highest regional rate in the world (ILO, 2011), Arab countries alone need to create approximately 80 million new jobs by 2020 (World Bank). It is a daunting goal. One way to address this enormous task and to tackle unemployment is the incubation and support of sustainable entrepreneurship and SME development. The organisation Mowgli, founded by Tony Bury, does its part by providing mentorship to entrepreneurs in the Middle East.

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Tharawat Article: Mowgli, On Mentorship in the Middle East

  1. 1. SMEs MOWGLI, ON MENTORSHIP IN THE MIDDLE EAST Mowgli On Mentorship in the Middle East With unemployment in the MENA region rising and now standing at 10.3%, the highest regional rate in the world (ILO, 2011), Arab countries alone need to create approximately 80 million new jobs by 2020 (World Bank). It is a daunting goal. One way to address this enormous task and to tackle unemployment is the incubation and support of sustainable entrepreneurship and SME development. The organisation Mowgli, founded by Tony Bury, does its part by providing mentorship to entrepreneurs in the Middle East. T ony Bury, a serial entrepreneur sustainable job creation, and social and economic with over 45 years of experience development. The organisation achieves this by in the Middle East, believes that a recruiting, training and matching mentors and highly effective way to create long entrepreneurs in relational and business mentoring term, sustainable employment relationships through their unique Mowgli Mentor opportunities is by mentoring, supporting and Experience (MME) programs. The role of the empowering entrepreneurs who start and grow mentor in this relationship is to provide hope and businesses and helping them to develop their aspiration, to help entrepreneurs build confidence, own leadership and decision-making capability. mitigate risk, focus on individual personal Following that conviction Bury founded the development, expand their business, and address mentorship organisation “Mowgli Foundation”. challenges along the way. Mowgli’s mission is to provide mentors who inspire, support and empower entrepreneurs in achieving Interestingly it is not only the entrepreneurs, the their business and personal potential, encouraging mentees that benefit from this relationship and74 Tharawat magazine Volume 15 www.tharawat-magazine.com
  2. 2. MOWGLI, ON MENTORSHIP IN THE MIDDLE EAST SMEs Q&A with Tony Bury Founder of Mowgli What inspired you to start The Mowgli Foundation? Fast growing markets have produced entrepreneurs, who have developed businesses that have set fantastic examples in fighting unemployment and have greatly contributed to poverty alleviation. TheABOVE: exchange: Bury realized that the mentors, too hugely moment I understood their positive role in society,Mowgli benefit from the experience through their own I concluded that we really need to find ways toMentoringExperience personal and leadership development. The learning support entrepreneurs. After extensive research I(MME)’ process is often a period of self-discovery resulting in quickly realised that the thing that entrepreneursPrograms the development of new skills and competencies that needed the most were mentors, people who support can be applied within their own professional and them on their journey. This is how the idea of personal lives. From published reports to Mowgli’s Mowgli was born. own impact analyses and reports, mentoring has a clear and proven influence on the ability of Initially, I knew little about mentoring. But when I entrepreneurs to grow their business sustainably, started researching the topic I saw that I myself had learn, develop and mentor others. It is for this reason many people in my life who to me were mentors, that Mowgli strives to place mentoring at the heart and I began to appreciate the concept. When of enabling entrepreneurship, as well as personal we started Mowgli in 2008 mentoring wasn’t a and business leadership. widely spread practice in the Middle East, though undoubtedly it is happening informally between To date, Mowgli, run by Tony Bury together with a many people. high-energy team including his daughter Kathleen, has successfully run 24 MME programs in Jordan, Why is mentorship so important to the Middle Lebanon, Syria, Palestine and the UK. They have East? trained around 200 mentors and matched them with high growth potential entrepreneurs, from all The Middle East is faced with dramatic youth backgrounds, ages and sectors, to undertake a year- unemployment. When we looked into ways of how long mentoring relationship supported by Mowgli. society could solve this problem, different strategies In line with their plans to launch in Egypt, Tunisia, came to mind. Mostly, however, Arab countries Morocco, Algeria, Qatar and the UAE, Mowgli has have to get more private sector ownership over successfully secured funding to deliver a further commercial businesses. Supporting entrepreneurs, 20+ MME programs within 2012-13, training up creating SMEs and developing them is one way of to a further 240 mentors within the MENA alone. going about this.www.tharawat-magazine.com Volume 15 Tharawat magazine 75
  3. 3. SMEs MOWGLI, ON MENTORSHIP IN THE MIDDLE EAST However, becoming a successful entrepreneur in the Figure 1: The Hero’s Journey, Joseph Campbell: The Middle East is still largely dependent on what kind Journey of the Entrepreneur under Mentorship of relationships you have in the business community. This makes it hard for many entrepreneurs to get 7 Facing the Darkness access to interesting opportunities. To support them on their journey and help them get access to these 8 A New Trials, opportunities, we first have to understand how 9 Perspective 6 Allies & Enemies The Journey entrepreneurs work. The first building blocks for any entrepreneurs to be successful are their hopes and 10 The Return The Hero’s Journey aspirations. Therefore, the first thing mentoring does 5 Crossing is support entrepreneurs in exactly that. I cannot tell 1 4 the Line Ordinary World Meeting The Call the Mentor you the difference that the following words make to 2 to Change 3 an entrepreneur: ‘I believe in what you are doing and Refusing the Call I believe that you are able to do it.’ Just that kind of encouragement is a fantastic experience. It is the whole point of mentorship. The importance of mentorship In a next step we focus on business competency, which consists of three components: Knowledge, in the Middle East goes far beyond skills and behaviour. If you have the highest level supporting entrepreneurship to of knowledge and the highest level of skills but developing different models of do not demonstrate consistent behaviour, your competency is rated low. This is why in mentorship leadership. we focus on behaviour. Whenever you listen to successful entrepreneurs they will tell you that it was a mentor who significantly helped in that area. easy, they do not necessarily have the skills to grow the organisation at a later stage when processes The key element that you see in Figure 1 is the and structures are needed. A mentor can assist in personal development journey that we all go through deciding what additional skills the entrepreneur from time to time, including entrepreneurs. You can needs and needs to bring in at this growth stage. see that there is a thunderstorm at a certain stage: The third critical moment is when an entrepreneur Each entrepreneur goes through these turmoils. becomes very successful, his ego may start to grow There are three critical moments in an entrepreneur’s and he/she begins to make decisions that are not in life cycle where he/she needs a mentor most: Often, his/her personal or business interest. A mentor can at the very beginning, when financial performance is help check this behaviour. poor, they are all stressed out and they make wrong decisions. A mentor is exactly the person to talk to The importance of mentorship in the Middle East goes because entrepreneurs can hardly tell their friends far beyond supporting entrepreneurship to developing and family that they are going bankrupt next week. different models of leadership. My definition of Another critical moment is when entrepreneurs leadership is simple: To serve is to lead; if I serve you realise that while starting the business was fairly and you follow me and then I will become a leader.76 Tharawat magazine Volume 15 www.tharawat-magazine.com
  4. 4. MOWGLI, ON MENTORSHIP IN THE MIDDLE EAST SMEs The greatest thing that one human being can do for The word “Mentor” is often greatly misused: Some another is to mentor them and if you cannot mentor, people think of mentoring as providing advice, you cannot lead. That is why I believe mentoring is so others think of coaching as mentoring. In reality important: it actually develops leadership. coaching is about performance enhancement. In mentorship the mentor needs to be able to be Our mentors give their time to entrepreneurs involved and understand what are the issues in the without expecting anything back or receiving entrepreneur’s personal life, which is impacting his financial compensation, but they always confirm or her business life and vice versa. It requires a high that they get such joy from doing it. They enjoy degree of trust. Mentors as a rule have to have or seeing their mentees develop their decision making to develop a high level of emotional intelligence. and leadership capability around the advice that is given and that the guidance and support is Are the relationships between mentors and appreciated. Mentors therefore get just as much the entrepreneurs continued after the Mowgli out of the mentor/mentee relationship as the program? entrepreneurs that they are supporting and often say that the mentee actually becomes their mentor. Following the 3 day mentor training and mentee- Many have come back to me and told me that being mentor matching program, we facilitate a one year a mentor has helped them deal with challenges in mentoring program and after that the mentor and the other, sometimes more personal, areas of life as well. entrepreneur are free to continue their relationship on their own. Although they remain part of the Mowgli What are the major do’s and don’ts of Family (alumni), we do not monitor them for our mentorship? official impact reports. Of the 80% of the relationships that last the one year with Mowgli, 97% go on to a Of course, a mentor is someone who listens and tells second year, and so far 95% have gone on to the third you the truth and not necessarily what you want year. The relationship with the mentors doesn’t have to hear, but at the same time they should not be to be maintained on a daily basis, but if a trusting judgemental. What is also really important is that relationship is developed, they usually remain in your the mentor should not have any vested interest in life. In addition, both parties need to understand that the performance of their mentee. For instance, if the the mentorship relationship is absolutely symbiotic, if mentor has an interest in shares of the entrepreneur’s it is not, the relationship falls apart. In fact the mentees business then that corrupts the value of the are the drivers of the relationship: if they do not keep mentorship program. in touch with the mentor, the relationship will fail. The other aspect that is really important for a One of the greatest benefits of our Mowgli mentor is that in case of failure they do not criticise program is that we partner entrepreneurs up their mentees or discourage them, but support them with one “official” mentor but during the program in getting back up, celebrating and learning from they are able to benefit from numerous unofficial the experience. In the future, I would like mentees mentors at the same time. It is this experience that to share their failures because it is so important we try to provide and that we hope contributes to to share these experiences with the community, the sustainable success of entrepreneurs in the especially in the Middle East. Middle East.www.tharawat-magazine.com Volume 15 Tharawat magazine 77

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