Mentoring to Make a Difference: the Yunus & Youth Mentoring Experience

April 16, 2020
Corporate mentors are a fundamental component of the Yunus & Youth Fellowship Program. Over a period of six months, they are paired up with a fellow and meet with them to provide guidance on the challenges they’re facing. Our mentors’ expertise includes marketing, finance, partnership management, scaling, and others. 

To talk more about our mentors’ experience in the program, we interviewed Courtney Taylor, a former mentor from New York City, based in Dublin. 

Courtney works in Citi Bank’s Credit Risk department. She has a Bachelor’s degree from Bryant University, an MBA from UMass Amherst in Finance, and over seven years of experience in her field.  

During the Yunus & Youth Fellowship Program 2018, she mentored Bruno Azevedo, a young entrepreneur from Brazil who founded Thinkmilk, a social enterprise dedicated to developing low-cost sensors connected to wi-fi signals to test the milk production in dairy farms against certain diseases. Courtney explained that Bruno’s idea was motivated by Brazil’s large number of cattle farms and the relatively small capacity to test the quality of the milk, which, for instance, prevents many farmers from being able to export the produced milk.

It was Courtney’s first time as a mentor. She decided to join the program because she considered it to be a good opportunity to “meet new people”, “learn from different perspectives” and to “give back by sharing skills from the business side to help someone achieve their goals”. The results, for her, were brilliant. She learned “to have an open mind”, and that, when working towards the same goal, she shared many similarities with Bruno. Also, before Y&Y, Courney didn’t know much about social businesses. With the program, she learned about it in practice through her direct exposure to young entrepreneurs.

Reflecting upon her experience, she added that having a mentor is important because mentors are able to provide a “guiding voice from an outside perspective”. In Bruno’s case, the benefits from his mentoring relationship with Courtney were evident. She mentioned that, beyond being a social entrepreneur, Bruno was also a student and, even with a busy schedule, the program helped him find a new potential investor, and to “brush up his projections and financial management”! 

By the end of the program, Courtney was inspired to continue giving back as a mentor. She got involved with another organization in Dublin, which works to support young entrepreneurs with mentorship as well, though on a smaller scale. 

For those who are thinking of becoming mentors, Courtney would say: “Do not be afraid! Just go out and do it!”. Even if it’s intimidating at first, she is certain that “even the small contributions you make can make a really big difference!” 

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