2 May 2016 (SECOEP Vietnam) | Mentoring services perhaps were first introduced to the Vietnamese business community in early 2000s. A survey conducted by Swiss government-funded SECO Entrepreneurship Program (SECOEP) learns that Vietnam Women Entrepreneurs Council has introduced mentoring services as early as in 2003. Hanoi Young Business Association, SME Mentors Network, Vietnam Silicon Valley Project, and Hatch are pioneers providing startups and entrepreneurs with mentors and mentoring services in 2012 and 2013. Since 2014, mentorship is getting popular with an increasing number of organizations and programs offering the services.
Although the Vietnamese entrepreneurial ecosystem players now (2016) very often mention the critical role of mentorship in entrepreneurial process and success there are controversies about (a) differences between mentor, coach, trainer, advisor, and consultant; (b) long- vs. short-term mentoring relations; (c) benefits to mentors in long-term relationships with startups and entrepreneurs; (d) sustainability of mentoring programs; and (e) interaction of mentoring programs with other ecosystem players, to name but a few. This survey, conducted by SECOEP, is the first effort to learn about mentoring programs and services in Vietnam with both quantitative and qualitative responses from mentoring program managers, mentors, and entrepreneurs.
Caveat Emptor: This survey was conducted on a selected and limited sample. Analyses and discussions are based on small number of responses and accumulative 10+-year expertise in the Vietnamese entrepreneurial ecosystem of the in-country team of SECO EP.
The following are highlights of the survey results.
- There are two survey questionnaires. One is to learn about mentoring programs and collect responses of the programs’ managers. The other is to learn about mentors and mentees – i.e., startup founders and entrepreneurs who receive mentoring services. Survey questionnaires were distributed in mentoring workshops organized by SECOEP and the Program’s partners in Hanoi, Da Nang, and Ho Chi Minh cities in March 2016.
- There were 146 participants in six workshops. 76 responses were collected. There were duplicate participants because mentoring program managers and mentors joined both Mentoring Program Managers Workshop and Effective Mentoring Workshop. Startup founders and entrepreneurs joined only Effective Mentoring Workshop.
- Survey questionnaire on mentoring programs was not distributed in Da Nang.
- The number of mentoring programs offering long-term relations between mentors and entrepreneurs is double that of separate mentoring sessions (or, short-term programs).
- Most mentoring programs reportedly have a pool of mentors. Having a pool of mentors only suggests that the programs manage to create connections with mentors and organize mentoring activities. Activeness and effectiveness of mentoring programs do not depend on the number of mentors connected to the programs.
- Giving back is the most popular motivation of mentors. The follower is learning new ideas from passionate entrepreneurs.
- Mentoring program managers affirm that business people, especially the champions, are the most-wanted mentors. These people are not only “been there & done that” but also naturally respected for their successes and business connections by the entrepreneurs. Professionals are also a good source of mentors. Their expertise in business management is very much helpful to startup founders who are very often young, product/service focused, and lack of business skills. The managers also welcome academics and investors to join their pools.
- Capacity building for mentors, matching appropriate mentor-mentee relation, and managing mentoring session are the most popular services that mentors expect from mentoring programs.
- The largest benefits that mentoring services offer to startup founders and entrepreneurs are “connect to business network” and “knowledge” transferred by the mentors. The followers are (i) “push and challenge” that the mentors help their mentees go to the next stage of the entrepreneurial process, and (ii) “decision making” where the mentors help their mentees make well-thought-out decisions. Financing is somewhat startup founders and entrepreneurs should not expect to gain from mentorship.
- Capacity building for mentors, matching appropriate mentor-mentee relation, and managing mentoring session are the most popular services that mentors expect from mentoring programs. Most responded mentors have experienced less than two years in providing mentoring services. This suggests a need for capacity building.
- The most appropriate length of a mentoring session is 2 hours.
- Mentors prefer long-term relations with startup founders and entrepreneurs.
- Most mentoring programs are tracking the performances of the startups and entrepreneurs by surveying and interviewing.
* For further information about the survey, please contact Ms. Nguyen Quynh Anh, SECO Entrepreneurship Program, Manager, email@example.com