Tag Archive | Mentorship

Mentoring Younger Women

I’ve thought of this many times before – how I’d love to teach younger women some of the things I have learnt while growing up. All of the mistakes I’ve made so far have been very painful; some I’d rather not acknowledge to anyone apart from God. However, I have learnt that my pain, when looked at through the eyes of wisdom, can easily be the stepping stone to someone else’s gain. In the ways in which I see my pain as gain, I see opportunities to edify another woman who needs to know that she doesn’t have to make all the mistakes I made. In fact, if I could really have my way, she wouldn’t make any mistakes at all. She would be perfect.

However, life does not always work that way. We do make mistakes often – some grievous, others less disastrous, but with consequences nonetheless. The hope we have is that we can influence a new generation by preparing them for later life. This will involve opening up our lives to let another woman look inside and learn what they need to learn.

Mentoring younger women needs to be a part of our Kenyan culture once again. My mother’s generation used to do it in their own way, especially when it came to preparation for marriage life. No wonder their marriages seemed to have less volatility. There was a lot of mutual understanding and cooperation between spouses such that even if they had major issues (which I’m sure they did) they dealt with them in a way that didn’t necessarily spell divorce. However, it’s not just marriage life that needs advance preparation. It’s everything else that encompasses a woman’s life from tips on career to choosing friends, dressing, self-expression, leadership, and a host of other things. Come to think of it, a lot of things that I consider to be my repertoire of life skills came from time I spent with other women e.g. older sisters, teachers, friends in college, and of course, my mother. That is not to say that this is the only channel of learning or wisdom for a girl but it is a vital one that will not only prepare her for adult life but will also communicate subtly that she is cared for.

I remember episodes of my childhood when I would spend time with my older sister (I have seven). I’d listen to her opinions of things in life and watch how she handled relationships with people, or how she made decisions about her education and career. She was always serious and practical, but also very compassionate and loved to help needy people. I learnt the value of helping others because she would always come to my rescue whenever I was in trouble, even if I did something very silly. She would often encourage me in my choice of career even when it seemed things wouldn’t work for me. As a result, I learnt to be strong and stable throughout life. I knew that someone always had my back.

If each of us could choose to ‘have someone’s back’ today, there would be a better experience of life, I’m sure of it! Could you do that?


Women’s Groups can be vehicles for mentoring

Women in Kenya are known to be adept at forming groups, organizations, chamas, clubs and all manner of gatherings for one cause or another. In fact, we are so good at it, we have managed to attract the attention of major financial institutions, donors and the government to either finance, support or provide input into our activities. Look at how banks like Equity, Co-operative and K-Rep have introduced and marketed products that specifically target women. These institutions seem to have noticed something significant about what women do when they come together and that we can no longer be ignored. It is said that whatever you do for a woman, whether she is a mother, sister, aunt, grandmother, or daughter, you have done for the whole family. Due to her nurturing and relationship attributes, she is more likely to draw everyone else into the loop of whatever benefit she is enjoying so that they are also blessed.

The reason why I’m saying all this is to remind us of our potential and opportunities as women, and to tie it in with mentoring. Take, for instance, the chamas we are so well-known for. How can we use these forums for mentoring? Is there a way we can devote some of our time to speak to girls in school and college concerning what we have learnt even within the chama? For instance, you could dedicate one of the monthly meetings to visit a school or children’s home and organize a talk, film, games, or other appropriate activity. You could choose to invite an expert in a certain field to guide the talk, e.g. a banker, an entrepreneur, a pastor, a career coach, etc. If it’s not a school or home, you could organize girls in a certain community or estate to gather at the nearest community center or hall and have your activities there. It may require some bit of financing but if you have a welfare kitty within the chama, you could dedicate a certain percentage towards mentoring activities and even have members contribute to it.

You could also invite your daughters and nieces for your meetings every once in a while. This is a great way for them to learn how to manage finances, understand some aspects of group leadership, learn new values and generally enjoy a special outing with mum or auntie.

Another good example is the self-help groups that are common in rural areas. Apart from the main goal of being a vehicle for raising the income of members and the community, it can also be a place where future business women are raised by transferring knowledge and skills to girls. This can be done during school holidays and can be a good strategy for keeping the girls away from idleness that leads to things like promiscuous behavior that causes early pregnancies.

For a long time we have pushed for women in this country to take leadership positions and yes, a lot of ground has been covered. We thank God for the women in parliament as well as the ones heading their own businesses and other organizations. However, I keep asking myself these questions: What about the next generation of women leaders? Have they been trained for leadership? Who is mentoring them to become great women who can be emulated in society?

The groups that we have formed as women are excellent existing structures that we can use to mentor the younger generation. Rather than re-inventing the wheel, let us use the resources that are already at our disposal to do something great. Let us move away from providing just for the present, to providing for the future, which is what makes us stand out as prudent.

Mentoring is not very far from us. It is right at the doorstep of our monthly gatherings. We just need to open our hearts to the idea, start where we are with what we have, and I’m sure we’ll be amazed at how much we can accomplish together.

Being Mentored: What’s in it for you?

To all mentors out there, thank you very much for your work; you

guys are doing a great job!

I realize, as I write this article, that many times society fails to thank or appreciate or recognize what ‘everyday’ people are doing to make other’s liv

es more meaningful and productive

. A lot of negative stuff happens around us on a daily basis and we seem not to notice that good stuff is just as widespread, if we care to look a little closer. Even when we get to compliment someone it mostly turns out to be a high-profile person or someone in an influential position. Yet, it is the ordinary people we meet in the streets, at work or in the lift who make the most impact in our lives. The father w

ho protects his family from danger, the mother who cleans a child’s wound, the teacher who ensures the students meet the pass mark, the gardener who tends to the flowers that bring joy on Valentine’s Day, the kiosk-owner who makes milk and bread available just across the street, the watchman who maintains security at the gate…the list is endless. How often do we thank them? Well, that’s why I thought it a good idea to thank the people who play the role of mentors in our lives.

Now that that’s done let’s turn our attention to the

mentored. If you are being mentored or seeking a mentor you might want to consider what benefits can be derived from such an arrangement. After all, you are committing your time and energy to the process so it should yield something worthwhile.

Mentoring affords you an exclusive learning experience that in some cases you do not even have to pay for. Take for example, a weekly meeting with your supervisor at work to tackle any problems you may have encountered and find solutions to implement together. It’s exclusive because it is not open to everyone out there and you get individual attention. The learning environment created by mentorship is one in which you are allowed to make mistakes and be corrected gently; a non-threatening approach.

Being mentored in a group setting opens the door for new partnerships and networking opportunities. For instance, when you attend professional forums or training seminars you meet new people who have the same passion as you do. This gives you the opportunity to exchange ideas, information, experiences and even potential business contacts.

Improved self-confidence is another benefit of being mentored. Knowing that somebody believes in you, supports you and is willing to go the extra mile in ensuring your success in life goes a long way in building your sense of self-worth and confidence.

Your social skills are also likely to get a boost from the mentoring process as you interact more closely with your mentor or with people in a forum. The mentoring relationship provides an opportunity for constant communication in the form of feedback, questions and answers. In some cases there are activities involved, like team building or working on a project together, all of which have an impact on how you relate with others.

These are just a few of the potential benefits and are by no means exhaustive. Perhaps you have experienced something more or something different than these; feel free to share your own experience.

If you would like to write it as an article, just send it to me (yourwritingworld@gmail.com) with the subject Benefits of being Mentored and I will publish it as a guest post.

What is your experience on being mentored?

People go through different experiences in the mentoring process; care to share yours?

It may have been at school, college, home, work or church. Sometimes what we share openly and honestly can help somebody else either understand or stop struggling with their own issues. When another person realizes that someone else is facing what they are going through, it helps them become stronger.

This is not to indicate that I am looking for negative experiences only; on the contrary the more positive experiences shared, the more encouragement is passed on.

Your sharing can take the form of a comment or if you feel you can write a whole article on it just send it to me (yourwritingworld@gmail.com) with the subject MY MENTORING EXPERIENCE and I will be glad to publish it here. You may or may not include a name or pseudo-name.


What is the expectation on a mentee in a mentoring process?

You may be asking yourself, if I agree to be mentored by someone else, what is expected of me?


First of all, you need to keep in mind the reason for which you are being mentored. Mentoring takes place for various reasons and in different contexts, factors which will affect the type of relationship and the expectations on you as the mentee. For instance, if it is a work-based mentoring process you may be required to report regularly to your mentor, progress on something that you have been given to work on. However, there are general expectations regardless of the type of mentoring relationship. Here are three important ones:


Be teachable:
The mentoring process will be much easier if there is willingness to learn, on the part of the mentee. In other words, put on humility. Allow yourself to be corrected and trained. Let it be a learning experience and you will be happier. Actually, both mentee and mentor will be happier!


Be available:
When a mentoring process begins, certain parameters are usually agreed upon that will govern the relationship so that it benefits the mentee. One of these parameters is time, i.e. how much time both parties are willing to invest in the relationship. Once this is agreed on, ensure that you maintain your end of the bargain. Avoid coming up with many excuses about why you could not turn up for a meeting or training session otherwise you come across as disinterested. Even if certain unexpected issues arise (and sometimes they do) always look for a way out or at the least, inform your mentor if it will affect the time you had planned so that rescheduling can be considered.


Be active:
Apply what you have learnt so that both of you can be able to see and evaluate the results of the mentoring process. Remember that information alone does not necessarily lead to wisdom; it is in the application of that information that wisdom comes forth.

Being active also means asking questions where you do not understand as well as taking the initiative to explore new ideas, methods and ways of doing things. All these will add value to the mentoring process.


In my research, I have discovered that there are different types of mentoring relationships, determined by the kind of arrangement between the two parties – the mentor and the mentored.

First of all, there is Individual vs Group mentoring. Individual mentoring refers to a one-on-one relationship where focus is on one person at a time.

Group mentoring, on the other hand, refers to situations where more than one person is being mentored at a time. This happens a lot in the education and social spheres where a special mentoring program is created to achieve certain objectives in the lives of a group of people. The program may be run by an institution such as the government, a community organization, an NGO, or a school.

There is also Formal vs Informal mentoring. Formal mentoring occurs when there is a deliberate intent to learn, grow or develop wisdom through conversation (from http://www.mentoring-works.com). It is usually more structured and organized, with each party being informed of their boundaries and expectations from the other party. In most cases the mentee is matched with a mentor according to needs, goals, expertise, experience and other factors determined in the mentoring program. Most youth mentoring programs are formal ones. Some people call it Planned mentoring.

Informal mentoring occurs without deliberate intent, as when you happen to listen to a radio program, motivational speaker, friend, or colleague at work and apply their advice or teaching. It usually happens just by chance, even without the mentor being aware. Some people call this Natural mentoring.

Mentoring can also be viewed in terms of context. There is career mentoring, commonly referred to as career coaching, which can occur at the workplace or in the context of work and career.

Mentoring for personal development is usually geared towards becoming a better person as a whole, in terms of character, attitude, and lifestyle. Life-skills training programs fall into this category.

I hope this gives you a better understanding of mentoring.

Next, we will look at the role of the mentor and the mentee.

Understanding the relationship

mentoring is like sowing precious seed

Are you being mentored? Do you find it difficult to navigate the relationship?

Mentoring is a relationship that needs to be nurtured properly by both parties. The first step to succeeding in a mentoring process is to understand the relationship.

The Mentor

Think of a mentor as a willing teacher who is also going through their own learning process, rather than as a guru who already knows everything and simply ‘talks down’ to his/her trainees. This helps the mentoring relationship to flow more easily and remain simple.

The mentor is there to help you get to where you are going, so it’s not just about criticizing, correcting or instructing. A mentor should be able to offer a helping hand in times of need, at times even sympathizing and empathizing with the mentee.

Do you see this in the person mentoring you? Share your thoughts….