Mentor-Driven Capital in Nigeria: how mentors and startups can strengthen each other’s growth

Any individual tasked with the responsibility of steering people and organizations on the path to success and sustainability is inevitably going to reduce the chaos and disorderliness within a system. VC4A created the Mentor-Driven Capital platform specifically to help provide structure and direction that prepares such individuals for the mission to support startup founders through mentorship, especially in Africa.

In partnership with Ventures Park, the 2022 VC4A MDC Nigeria program matched passionate business leaders keen to steer the startup ecosystem in the right direction, and high-potential founders seeking guidance to prioritize impact for their businesses.

Cross-section of energized business mentors at the onboarding session of MDC Nigeria 2022

Creating the perfect match between mentors and mentees

A total of 20 mentor-mentee matches have been made in the 2022 edition of the VC4A Mentor-Driven Capital (MDC) Nigeria, now ongoing. Based on the niche of each mentor, a hybrid matching system was employed to allow both sides get to know each other while discovering qualities that resonate from mentor to mentee and vice versa.

To kickoff the program, onboarded mentors and startup founders got to know each other in a meet and greet fashion, shared their expectations and ideas and insights from their experiences over the years. Mentor and founder groups were created separately encouraging peer-to-peer sharing overall.

Get to know this year’s participating mentors and startup founders on the MDC Nigeria 2022 program page.

The learning experience since the start of the program has been nothing short of insightful. Beyond getting a chance to share their wealth of experience in their sessions with the founders, the mentors equally gained from quality masterclasses with industry experts on mentorship. At the kickoff expert session, angel investor, mentor and startup founder Simeon Onanobi shared hard lessons about what it takes to scale a business, and the importance of having a mentor by your side. Simeon started off by stressing the importance of openness and transparency in mentoring. He identifies this as one of the major challenges of mentoring, calling for startup founders to be open about their ideas.

Simeon added … “the idea is not the issue, the execution is. This is where the difference is made and this is where startups can show their competitive advantage”. 

As a starting angel investor, there’s a need to overcome the fear of making mistakes and focus on becoming passionate about helping startups get it right. His session laid the foundation for mentors’ expectations in how they can walk founders through fundraising, growth, business structure, and development.

Mentors and startups take on the program

In a recent reflection session, Tracy Okoro shared that she is currently working on making introductions with networks of founders and businesses for her mentee Titilayo Taiwo – founder of Terawork. Through the program, Tracy has learned how to identify opportunities that will be beneficial to her mentee and reprioritize her time to better support her.

From another match, Gbenga Agoye also shared how he’s helping John Udoekpo of Agro Market Square identify alternative sector drivers, optimize for logistics, insurance, and functionality as well as develop an objective and key results system that will help John measure progress.

Monica Maduekwe, a mentor and founder of PUTTRU Technologies Limited and a clean tech expert.

Monica Maduekwe

I came in thinking that my mentee would need support in something like capital raising. However, her interests are in building her advisory board – seems unimpressive compared to capital raising but very fundamental to building a successful company in the long-term. Sometimes small areas of support could make all the difference.  

Monica Maduekwe

Silas Ozoya, founder of SUBA capital joined the program to get clarity on how he could better position his business for investment. Sharing his experience, he wasn’t only eager to recommend the program to other startup founders, he was exposed to more strategic ways to be investor-ready, thanks to guidance from his mentor – Ayodeji Arikawe of Thrive Agric.

During the course of the program, Ayo said “There’s a lot of opportunity for growth in the space and we need more tech startups not less”. He further expressed that his experience with his mentee was amazing because Silas and his team were resilient in the building of their vision. 

Antoinette Edodo was matched with Nonyelim Okolie – founder of Balm Health who sought advice guidance on her current business strategy with the immediate goal of fundraising. With her mentor’s help, she realigned her focus into launching a successful pilot and showing traction first. Antoinette and Nonyelim are now working strategically, gathering information, and considering different versions of the business model to target different audiences. 

One of Antoinette’s pieces of advice is that “founders shouldn’t just check boxes when starting out in their business journey, but look out for real results like customer acquisition and business partnerships”.

What’s Next?

Structured mentoring programs are incredibly powerful tools that help you leverage resources your company already has, to create and boost business growth and productivity. The 2022 edition of the Mentor-Driven Capital program in Nigeria is set to close by the end of July during the Lagos Startup Week. Keen to further engage as a mentor or a mentee in the startup ecosystem?

  1. Join future editions of the Mentor-Driven Capital program in Africa. Learn more.
  2. Identify with the region’s elite mentor network by joining the VC4A Mentorship Marketplace.
  3. Connect with a VC4A vetted mentor for free. Connect me to a mentor.