ACCRA, GHANA —Searching for a mentor? Not a role model but a mentor, someone who can help you get to your next-level? Samuel Agyeman-Prempeh (@saprempeh) may be your answer.
The social entrepreneur has gained a national following for himself through his motivational talks, published works and coming later this fall, a new online platform to connect people with potential mentors. At last month’s first edition of Role Model Africa, he enthusiastically explained his goals for bringing mentorship to all young people in Africa,
“ A role model is someone you admire from afar. With time and under the right circumstances, that person you don’t know can become someone you know, a mentor. And mentorship, when done right, means a sustainable livelihood for Africa’s future. This is the opportunity we are looking to give the youth,” — Samuel Agyeman-Prempeh
As a high school student at the Achimota School in Accra, Agyeman-Prempeh saw a rapidly evolving Africa and the promising abilities of its younger generation. He said his ‘discovery’ was apparent in local news headlines, the conversations he had with classmates and in their shared desire to avert ‘waithood’, that awkward period between childhood and adulthood. He soon began taking the steps that led to INVENTS — a non-profit organization whose mission is to raise young Africans to be leaders and entrepreneurs before they hit the age of 25.
Seven years after its founding, INVENTS has taken steps to advance this mission by providing an online space for, “the aspirer and the experienced to engage and learn from one another.”
How It Works in 5 Steps
The Role Model Africa platform will be hosted on the INVENTS website rather than exist as an app on the Apple or Google Play stores. This is to serve an audience to whom smartphones are still mostly unavailable. But Agyeman-Prempeh said, the platform’s interface will still be designed to be compatible with all smartphones and tablets.
The Role Model Africa platform in some ways will function as a social media network with its use of user profiles, messaging services and an activity feed.
Step One: Create a Profile
New users are first given the option to register as a ‘mentor’ or ‘mentee’. After providing basic details like name, date of birth and nationality, the platform requires the user to provide academic and professional information. The INVENTS team then examines each registration application, using an in-house quality control specifications list.
“We take this seriously. As a mentee, we’re looking to see if you have a registered business or if you have uploaded a business plan. Or if you have an idea that you are committed to. Your mentor is not going to do the work for you but compel you,” — Agyeman-Prempeh
For mentors, the INVENTS team keeps an eye out for experienced African professionals whose achievements and impact can span beyond even the continent.
Step Two: Get Connected
Upon approval of their profile, a user can request in detail, the types of mentoring services they are looking to receive,
“If you’re into Agricultural business, you tell us and we will work to pair you up with a mentor in the same field,” — Agyeman-Prempeh
If you’re a mentor and you come across a mentee who you would like to take on, you can place a request for review with the INVENTS team using the platform.
Step Three: Get Mentoring
When all requests have been reviewed, users will receive a notification stating who their mentor or mentee will be. The two then become acquainted using the messaging service, addressing various topics and tasks specific to the needs and expectations of the mentee and their mentor. Mentees and mentors can then choose the option to attend in-person meetings with one another.
“Depending on the schedule of a mentor, we will organize monthly physical meetings in a space where the mentor and mentee can meet comfortably. They will follow up on things that they have been speaking about. This is a chance for the mentee to observe their mentor and press for practical advice that they wouldn’t get in the classroom,” — Agyeman-Prempeh
For those who are unable to meet their mentoring partners in-person becaue of long distances, the INVENTS team will even coordinate Skype meetings.
Step Four: Feedback
After a first meeting, mentors and mentees will submit a report to the platform documenting the experience and any areas that may need improvement. This is helpful to the team at INVENTS in organizing future meetings and improving the platform.
Step Five: Tell Your Story
Agyeman-Prempeh said storytelling is what’s at the heart of his work. Post-mentorship, he said he expects Role Model Africa users to share their stories by doing everything from, “writing the books they want to read, filming the movies they want to watch, and starting industries to manufacture the products they want to use, so that Africans can learn from themselves.”
Role Model Africa is a coaching forum hosted by INVENTS, featuring African professionals who share their corporate and personal experiences with a live audience, as they are interviewed by a host. The forum is scheduled to be held quarterly and the new online platform takes its name from this initiative. For more on the program, see #RoleModelAfrica on Twitter.