Small Business Coaching and Mentoring: Why I became involved – USB alumnus

small business
  • JP Cronje
  • AUG 24 2018
  • Tags Alumni, SBA, mentor


Article written by JP Cronje, MPhil in Management Coaching alumnus and SBA mentor

The development and growth of people is always something that I was intrigued by. I was fortunate enough to be exposed to world class leadership and development initiatives during my corporate career. A benefit of working for a multi-national company is the level of investment in their employees and I was exposed to regular skills development and leadership development initiatives in order to enhance one’s managerial capabilities.

One of these interventions was when I was exposed to coaching for the first time in 2006. Coaching was introduced as a leadership style and management competency. Personally, I subscribed and could relate to the underlying principle of coaching that the focus should be on the individual and then the organisation would get the benefits of a developed, energised and motivated employee. This was when my coaching journey started and I became an internal coach followed by a number of coaching courses which concluded with the MPhil in Management Coaching from USB in 2015.

These development opportunities that I experienced always led me to ponder about small businesses and how they go about this type of development as they are invariably a one-man show or have very few staff. Money and time would also be an obstacle to people development.

When I decided to do my MPhil in Management Coaching and had to decide on a relevant topic to research I was once again triggered by the world of small businesses and the challenges of people development. This steered me to my decision of doing my research on small businesses and the coaching of SMEs.

A personal highlight that I have experienced as a mentor is the graduation of one’s mentee. That is when you realise that you have made a lasting contribution to the development of the participant.
– JP Cronje, MPhil in Management Coaching alumnus

The help and guidance from Dr Salome Van Coller-Peter, my supervisor, and Dr Marietjie Theron- Wepener, Head of the Small Business Academy, who encouraged me to do my research on the SBA where mentorship is an integral component, contributes to the development of the participants. The title of my research study was, The contribution of coaching and mentoring to the development of the participants in the Small Business Academy.

The literature review during my research further highlighted the unique dynamics and challenges entrepreneurs and small businesses face – particularly in the South African context. The challenges are not only limited to finance but skills and personal development as well.

A highlight and my first introduction to the SBA mentorship programme was the interviews I conducted with mentors and participants from the 2013 and 2014 SBA groups. From the outset I was humbled and inspired by the stories from the mentors and participants. The fact that I interviewed the participants at their respective places of work and ventures further exposed me to the challenges that these entrepreneurs face on a daily basis.

Feedback that continuously stood out during my research interviews with the participants were as follows:

  • How incredibly positive they experienced their mentorship.
  • Their mentors not only assisted with business skills but in personal development and growth too.
  • Many mentioned the fact that they would not have completed the SBA had it not been for the support and guidance of their mentor.
  • Most participants are still in regular contact with their mentor.

Feedback from the mentors highlighted the following:

  • How much they as mentors learnt from the experience considering that they came from an organized and process-driven corporate environment.
  • The exposure to a different environment they received from their mentee was liberating, insightful and educational.
  • How rewarding and satisfying it was for them to see their mentee grow not only in their business skills but in their personal development too.

Despite the findings from my research, it was in fact the gratitude and appreciation expressed from the participants about the mentors and the mentorship that stood out for me. This wonderful and fulfilling research experience inspired me to make a difference and therefore I decided to actively become a SBA mentor in 2016. A personal highlight that I have experienced as a mentor is the graduation of one’s mentee/participant. That is when you realise that you have made a lasting contribution to the development of the participant.

I am still involved with the SBA mentorship, but more in a facilitating capacity. Along with Dr Salome van Coller-Peter I am responsible for the recruitment and training of the mentors as well as the mentee training in the Western and Eastern Cape. We have also made a few refinements of the SBA which have been implemented with great success to improve the mentorship even more. We strive to continually refine and improve the mentorship programme.

Click here for more information about the SBA.


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