For entrepreneurs, turning passion into a business is a dream that doesn’t come easily. It’s hard work, and there are new challenges around every corner. Fortunately, businesses don’t have to go it alone. Whatever the size of your business, learning from the business know-how and guidance of experienced professionals can make the difference for success.
Whether it is knowing the right strategy to taking your business online, advice on how to handle your business challenges or insights into new regional or international markets, connect with a wide network of local and international experienced business professionals who can help.
Part of the EBRD’s unique Women in Business and Youth in Business programmes, we are helping provide women and young entrepreneurs with access to the finance, skills and networks they need to take their businesses further—and play the role in the economy that they deserve.
This initiative is made possible by MicroMentor, an online platform that connects entrepreneurs with volunteer mentors and in partnership with the Mastercard Center for Inclusive Growth.
1. Create a Profile on MicroMentor
A complete profile is the first step to connecting with others. It lets people know who you are and why you are here. The quality of your profile greatly affects your impression on those you are trying to connect with.
2. Reach Out to Others and Connect
Explore other members who have the profile you're looking for. Reach out by sending messages to several members. Start a conversation and find the right fit for you.
3. Start Mentoring
Now that you've found a match, ask questions, share, and listen. Agree on how and when to communicate using email, video chat, or a phone call. Set goals and start solving problems together!
You can filter your search of the thousands of members by industry, expertise, location, and more. Use the handy search filters, pictured in the image, to narrow down potential connections. Then, take some time to read through the profiles until you find a few members who seem interesting to you. Reach out with an introductory message and see if it's a good match. Once you've found a match you can start mentoring!
Sharing Valuable Expertise for Small Business Growth
Ola and Jumana started their business ‘Sanaaty’ back in February 2019, a venture that employs women and girls from different nationalities to produce handcrafts, accessories, and clothing. While their business experienced some early success, the two struggled to professionalize their business systems and sought help with marketing to new customers.
‘Things were messy for us and we were confused on how to get this business properly done’, added Jumana.
In search of support, the two created a free profile on MicroMentor in a matter of minutes using their smartphone. At first they were skeptical of the support they could receive through an online platform, but were encouraged by the selection of experienced mentors who were available to help. After sending a few messages, the two connected with Ayman, a 48 year old Jordanian marketing expert and business consultant with a degree in business management and over 20 years of rich experience in communications, marketing, branding, and market research. While Ayman works as a professional business coach, he signed up with MicroMentor to volunteer his skills to help others make the most of their ideas by offering his guidance and to participate in a global initiative to support entrepreneurship.
‘I have had my ups and downs in my career path, however, I believe I chose the right track as my experience has become a benefit for others’, Ayman notes.
Ayman connected with Ola and Jumana to give them a clear guideline on how to organize their work flow, conduct market research, and establish a framework for a successful marketing plan. The group decided it would be best to stay in contact via WhatsApp and connect once a week for a structured mentoring session. As a result of their work together, Sanaaty has grown its base of suppliers and recently launched their website: https://sanaaty.com/.
‘Ayman has provided us so much valuable knowledge, he has strongly helped us in organizing things and that’s what was important as a first step’, Ola added.
Paying Knowledge Forward
Zaid is a 30 year old entrepreneur, who runs a traditional and social themed restaurant as a side business to complement his full-time work in the humanitarian sector. Zaid started his restaurant with the goal to create an inviting atmosphere for his community and generate extra income but he quickly identified some limits to his time and budget. As a solo entrepreneur, he wasn’t able to hire a business development or marketing consultant to support him through the establishment and advertising for the venture and started instead to do some research of his own.
Building on his past experience working with small businesses, Zaid formulated a strategy to activate his networks through social media to give him some advice. He crowdsourced ideas for advertising his business - even landing on the name for the venture, ‘Kamajeh’ which means ‘countryside bread’, via a suggestion from a woman on Facebook. Those suggestions paid off, resulting in him growing his business to expand to additional locations, but not without major efforts on Zaid’s part.
Looking back, Zaid wishes he had known about MicroMentor earlier as it would have prevented him from having to learn everything on his own.
‘I wish the MicroMentor platform was brought earlier to Jordan, I would’ve definitely taken part in it as it is indeed a much needed tool for the success of any entrepreneur,’ Zaid continued, ‘thinking about it now I had indirectly done the same concept of MicroMentor through my social media but random people supported me, it would’ve been better if I got feedback and support from experts and mentors’.
Zaid hopes to expand his business to open more restaurants in the region as well as in Europe, and has chosen to start participating on MicroMentor as both a mentee and mentor. As a mentee he hopes to connect with experienced individuals in the restaurant industry who can share their experiences. As a mentor he hopes to share some of what he has learned to help others avoid having to go through the process alone as well as learn from restaurant owners in different markets so he can better anticipate the challenges he may one day face as well.
At the EBRD, we know that vibrant small and medium-sized enterprises are vital to economic life, across the 38 economies where we work. From accessing finance to business advice, the EBRD seeks to help businesses gain the skills, knowledge and resources they need to take the next step.
We also believe in the power of economic inclusion to help change economies, and, through our Women in Business and Youth in Business programmes, we are providing women entrepreneurs and young people with the tools to grow and the space to share experience and learn from each other.
We also work closely with our partner financial institutions in each country to help them offer financial products that better meet the needs of small businesses, serving their customers better for the long term.