Interview by: Stephanie Blum
Written by: Sierra Goerg
The Yunus&Youth Fellows have the chance to connect with experienced mentors from all around the world. Last year, Y&Y Fellow Sara Rajabli, founder of BUTA Arts and Sweets, had the opportunity to gain insight and perspective from mentors Jyoti Menon and Alyona Moseychuk, who both work for Citi. Jyoti lives in New York, and Alyona lives in Russia. Our fellows gain the most out of their experience from having mentors coming from around the world as they get exposed to perspectives that differ from their own.
“I’m from Russia and my co-mentor is from the USA. We are from completely different parts of the world,” mentor Alyona explains. “It’s interesting to collaborate with people living in different locations who have different mindsets because every time you do, you can learn something new.”
Mentoring is all about sharing different views and perspectives. By having our mentors living and working in various locations, Yunus&Youth Fellows have access to different experiences that they would not have access to in their daily life. “There are so many things that people can teach each other that their day to day life doesn’t have,” Jyoti explains. “Mentorship is not about age.” A mentor can be anyone who has a different perspective than can offer advice or guidance based on that experience. Because of this, Jyoti explains that many times even the person doing the mentoring can learn from the mentee.
Despite their proximity to one another, Jyoti and Alyona both agree that their relationship with Sara grew into a friendship more than just a business mentorship. “I would say we have a big, little sister relationship,” Jyoti describes. This relationship allowed the three to communicate and share their different ideas freely. “You need to be transparent and remember that it’s not about you giving instruction and telling them what to do,” she explains. “It’s about helping your mentee talk through some challenges and acting as a sounding board. You help them gain a different perspective or connect them with other people you know can help.”
An essential trait in a mentor, Jyoti explains, is knowing when you can help, but more importantly, when you cannot. “It’s important to remember that as a mentor, you will not have all the answers,” she explains. “Know where you can and can’t help, and then try to connect them with someone who can help.”
Sara’s social venture, BUTA Arts and Sweets, employs women with disabilities to help prepare and sell homemade sweets. Mentors Jyoti and Alyona helped Sara with her presentation style and advised on how to approach different problems. “It’s really priceless to see the results of Sara’s initiative and how the women are being helped,” says Alyona. “I feel honored I was apart of this program, I saw real results of my efforts. Even now I can see the progress through the business’ Instagram and seeing how much they have grown in one year.”
“Being a mentor through Yunus&Youth,” Jyoti explains. “You can definitely have an impact on the business that you are supporting no matter where you are from or where you are based.”