In addition to funding and technical support, DLIIC provides its sub-grantees with access to a mentor or mentoring services. The men and women who serve as DLIIC mentors have vast experience in a variety of fields, from electrical engineering to sexual and reproductive health to communications to computer science. Each mentor brings a unique perspective and skill set to the mentoring relationship. Learn more about the men and women who are providing support to a new generation of innovators on our Mentors page.
In analytical terms, DLIIC has three types of mentors: one-on-one mentors, specialist mentors, and senior mentors. Each serves a different purpose in the innovation development cycle.
These are mentors who regularly meet with and mentor the mentees one-on-one during the DLIIC grant period. The one-on-one mentor is sometimes described as the ‘critical friend’ because s/he critiques the mentee’s work and at times challenges the mentee to work harder. These mentors may be called upon to perform a variety of roles, depending on the needs of the mentee. These roles include:
- Making the innovator aware of potential or real problems that they have not noticed
- Being a conscience
- Being a sounding board
- Providing encouragement
- Offering cautionary advice when needed
- Providing links with useful contacts
People who undertake this mentoring role are trained and supervised by the DLIIC Senior Mentor and the DLIIC Mentoring Officer. They have a good understanding of the sector for which the innovation is being developed, knowledge of the innovation process, or expertise in project management, or all three.
It can be helpful to supplement the one-on-one mentor with specialist mentors. These mentors are trained in the same basic mentoring approach as the one-on-one mentor, except that the focus is on a speciality area such as HIV/AIDS, education, health, adolescence, or software development. DLIIC Management decides when a specialist mentor is needed to help with a sub-grantee challenge. The Specialist Mentor builds self-reliance in the mentee in a non-directive style (i.e. guiding rather than telling them what to do).
These individuals have sufficient mentoring experience to act as mentors to new mentors who are less experienced. When new mentors have the opportunity to work with a senior mentor, they also gain knowledge and expertise.
In addition to assigning sub-grantees to a one-on-one mentor, DLIIC has created a mechanism that can be referred to as “joint mentoring sessions”. These sessions involve multiple mentors and represent an opportunity for sub-grantees to present on the progress of their innovation projects and get feedback from a carefully selected, multidisciplinary team of experts and mentors. This mechanism has proven very helpful to mentees, who benefit from the diversity of thoughts and experiences that these sessions provide.
Do you have skills, experience, and expertise that you want to share with the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs? If you are ready to be a mentor, we want to hear from you! Contact Mwasiti Mkembe at firstname.lastname@example.org.