Y&Y corporate mentors are a fundamental piece to ensure that social entrepreneurs worldwide can develop better social business models and increase their impact. But social entrepreneurs are not the only ones who are challenged to grow during the Y&Y Fellowship Program. Mentors are too!
To learn more about the program’s impact on our mentors, we spoke to Taylor Boyer, Y&Y Mentor in our 2020 Fellowship Global cohort. We addressed her experience as a mentor, as well as her perceptions on the importance of sharing professional and business skills to scale the impact of social entrepreneurs.
Taylor works for Citigroup as a VP Fraud Prevention Risk Manager, implementing preventive measures to ensure the bank’s safety. She has worked there for about five years, and moved quickly from an agent role to a senior role. She also has strong experience with management, education and other areas.
She is grateful to be at a company that is engaged with programs such as the Yunus & Youth Social Impact Leadership Program. When she heard about it, she immediately applied! At the program, she mentored Y&Y Fellow Sashka Avanyan and her social business, Creopia Productions, which provides video production training in Vanadzor, a small town in Armenia. Creopia’s goal is to decrease the number of talented workers that choose to leave their country for higher paying roles elsewhere in the world (“brain migration”) and, as a result, boost the local economy. In addition, Creopia also provides services to international companies. Any revenue received is re-invested into training the students.
Starting in March 2020, Taylor wasn’t sure of how much impact she would have on Sashka and Creopia, as she had not been an entrepreneur herself before. But that uncertainty very soon turned into a unique chance to use her professional skill set to impact the social business.
Sashka brought in her entrepreneurial skills, and Taylor brought in her administrative and financial set of skills. Soon, Taylor realized that providing those skills for social entrepreneurs is “worldchanging”, as they can “completely change the future of social businesses”. That was Taylor’s biggest takeaway from her experience as a mentor.
During the program, they had ten mentoring meetings. Taylor supported Sashka in developing a better business model, marketing strategy, reaching news clients and pitching to potential investors. Towards the end, Creopia received a new grant from a venture funding organization!
At the same time, the social business faced new challenges in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic; having a mentor to plan strategically became even more important. Since Creopia’s students’ trainings were in person, they adapted their services for the virtual world. In this regard, Taylor mentioned that their mentoring relationship was strengthened and that she was impressed with the passion, resiliency and creativity that Sashka and her team put into their social business.
When reflecting upon her own learnings from the program, Taylor mentioned that, “regardless of whether [the Creopia team] had a perfect business plan, their heart was in it. They were changing lives everyday in a war-torn and unequal country”. She learned that, despite their different backgrounds, careers and countries, we all have the same goal towards the world. We want it to change. “Creopia was able to put their heart into it, and that’s what makes them successful”.
For Taylor, more companies should participate in programs such as the Y&Y Social Impact Leadership Program, as well as financially invest in social businesses. She mentioned that many professionals like her are looking for companies that care about social issues and that give their employees opportunities to apply their skills into mitigating those problems. To other corporate professionals who want to create a positive impact, she encourages them to be vocal about their passion: “if you’re passionate about something, empower others to invest in their passion too. Start small, as little things add up and can create a ripple effect”!