Photo: Youth Business International
Mohan Singh: Inspiring Enterprise through Mentoring
Do you remember that one teacher or guide who made a positive and lasting impact on your life? If you have ever provided support or advice based on your own life experiences, you have been a mentor to someone. And everyone needs a mentor.
“Mentoring” might not be a glossy word but it is a word and a movement which is growing in prominence and significance – especially in business circles – as a means of harnessing and nurturing business potential. If you have the time, the business experience and a desire to make a long-lasting and positive impact on economies and communities, mentoring aspiring entrepreneurs might be an option.
Mohan Singh is a company director by day. And after hours, his heart lies with creating grassroots entrepreneurship in the hinterland of India’s northern Haryana state. Mohan is a mentor to up-and-coming entrepreneurs – helping them achieve their dreams and, in the process, fulfilling some of his own.
“I believe that knowledge grows by sharing,” said Mohan. “While I help my entrepreneurs realise their potential, I feel that I discover many of my own hidden potential. It gives me great satisfaction when I help and see somebody succeed.”
Inspired by the work business leaders were doing with aspiring entrepreneurs and driven by a desire to improve the lives of people in India, he signed up to a mentoring programme in 1994 with Youth Business International’s Indian member Bharatiya Yuva Shakti Trust (BYST).
In almost 20 years, Mohan has mentored more than 50 entrepreneurs. He is especially committed to serving India’s rural entrepreneur community – a move that is hopefully helping stem the tide of young people moving away from these areas to find work in cities. Mentoring in outlying areas could inspire job seekers to become job generators, which improves local economies and creates closer-knit societies.
Mohan has therefore been pivotal to the success of BYST’s Mobile Mentor Clinic, where mentors from urban areas travel to rural entrepreneurs’ doorsteps to deliver necessary support and guidance. Mohan’s passion and dedication has inspired BYST to expand its operations into more outlying areas in India.
“Mr Singh is a natural leader who inspires not only me but all those who have benefited from his mentorship,” says Hitender Punyane, who set up air conditioning business ‘SHN Enterprises’ in 2009. “We brainstorm issues where his technical knowledge and business experience facilitate quicker decisions. His surprise visits give a morale boost; he is always ready to help; and he has a selfless attitude in sharing his 40 years of experience with me.”
With Mohan’s help, Hitender identified, focused on- and strengthened his core business before diversifying. Mohan’s technical background helped improve his product design and there has been a 100% growth in sales over the past 2 years.
Mohan reaps praise from his mentees, to whom he provides a range of skills, including strategic planning, marketing, finance and accounting, statutory compliance and business ethics, networking, and advice on quality management and accreditation.
“I could not have been happier when BYST assigned Mr Singh as my mentor since he taught me focus and to draw on my inner strengths, and change my outlook on life,” said Hitender.
Mohan’s experience and enthusiasm has seen him forge key relationships with financial institutions which provide funding for start-ups. An active public speaker, Mohan has hosted a series of national and international delegations, and addressed groups including industry members, young people, women, entrepreneurs, associations and employees. He has also spearheaded BYST’s mentoring programme - sourcing industry professionals to join the mentor network; interfacing with banks, government and agencies; and donating funds and equipment.
“He is and has always been available to BYST notwithstanding his busy schedule,” said the organisation. “He has been a tower of strength to the programme.”
Mentoring is true to that old proverb ‘Give a man a fish, and you feed him for a day; show him how to catch fish, and you feed him for a lifetime.’ If you have the time, the skills and you are prepared to make the commitment, think seriously about becoming a mentor. What have you got to lose?
In September YBI will be honouring Mohan with Mentor of the Year at our global Young Entrepreneur Awards which is part of our Global Summit. The Summit – supported by Accenture, Barclays and BG Group – is taking place in London.