15 Dec 2010
Making Use of E-mentoring to Support Local Growth-Oriented Entrepreneurship in Africa
NCCR Trade Working Paper 2011/09 by Philipp Aerni and Dominik Rüegger
Growth-oriented entrepreneurship is a key to endogenous development and cultural empowerment. There are many innovative African entrepreneurs who may have a good education and great ideas how to meet the unserved needs in their particular community, yet they can’t capitalize on it because they lack access to resources and know-how and there is no dependable entrepreneurial infrastructure that would help them cope with all the uncertainties related to a new venture. E-mentoring is likely to become a tool that helps them overcome the existing bottlenecks and even attract investment. In our research project, we reviewed existing activities in the area of e-mentoring for development. Based on these insights we designed our own experimental e-mentoring platform in collaboration with UNCTAD, Swisscontact and the Department of Computer Science at ETH Zurich. Its objectives are to reduce transaction costs for mentors by means of an improved matchmaking algorithm, to reduce uncertainty about the real conditions on the ground by means of local contact centers and to ensure continuous self-improvement of the platform by means of mentor/mentee ratings and feedback questionnaires.