1 Jun 2012
Books/ Book Chapters
Making use of e-mentoring to support innovative entrepreneurs in Africa
By Philipp Aerni and Dominik Rüegger
Growth-oriented entrepreneurship is key to endogenous development, cultural empowerment and an inclusive approach to international trade. There are many innovative African entrepreneurs who may have a good education and great ideas on how to meet the needs in their particular community. Yet, they cannot capitalise on their ideas because they lack access to resources and know-how, and there is no dependable entrepreneurial infrastructure that would help them to cope with all the uncertainties related to a new venture. E-mentoring is likely to become a tool that can help them to overcome the existing bottlenecks and attract investment. In our research project, we reviewed existing activities in the area of e-mentoring for development. Based on the insights gained we designed our own experimental e-mentoring platform in collaboration with the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), established European mentoring organisations and the Department of Computer Science at Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule (ETH; Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) Zurich. Its objectives are to reduce transaction costs for mentors by means of an effective matchmaking algorithm, to reduce uncertainty about the real conditions on the ground by means of local contact centres and to ensure continuous self-improvement of the platform by means of mentor/mentee ratings and feedback questionnaires.