The Power of Mentorship in Aqcellor’s World

Entrepreneurship Startup Ideas

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By Ajita Kadirgamar

There are many ways of learning about business, industry, and entrepreneurship but none can be as effective as learning through mentorship.

When you interact with a mentor you draw on his or her real-life experience, including the failures and disappointments encountered along the way, all of which are as important as the final success achieved.

A mentor is a role model, someone we look up to as exemplary in the way they conduct themselves in business. The ideal mentor will inculcate the right values and morals, which again, cannot be sourced through textbook learning.

Aqcellor places great importance on the role of mentorship in its Entrepreneurship Program. A mentor can address a budding entrepreneur’s questions and concerns from a lived-experience perspective. A mentor is in a position to allay the fears and doubts of a young businessperson who is perhaps on the verge of giving up. The mentor has usually been there too.

Believe in Yourself

Seven years ago, serial entrepreneur, respected educator, innovator, and mentor Heminda Jayaweera told a student of his, “Don’t believe the speculations of others. Prove whether your idea is working or not and determine everything from your results.” Those words of advice led Dineth Egodage and his team to start Sprintylab, a failed venture, followed by Ceyentra Technologies, today a highly successful tech company.

Dineth met Heminda again after seven years when Heminda was invited to speak on the topic ‘Innovation Mindset‘ at Aqcellor in May. It was a proud moment when the student, now CEO, was able to tell his mentor that Ceyentra has multiplied its revenue 10x within five years. “We still we have a lot to learn from him,” says Dineth. “He is one of the best mentors, who changed our entrepreneurial journey.”

Mentorship is About Giving Back

Take Chartered Accountant Anandan (Arni) Arnold, Partner at BBK Partnership, who after 36 plus years in the UK remains passionate about giving back to Sri Lanka. One of the many youths who left the island in 1983, not just for his personal safety but for an education, it was assumed he would take to medicine like his older brother, already a doctor in the UK.

Amusingly, he recalled how soon after his arrival in the UK, he asked his brother why he hadn’t returned home over the weekend. The doctor replied he had been working on shift. Arni cheekily replied, “Well then being a doctor won’t work for me, I have to play cricket!”

He ended up in the field of Accountancy and never for a moment forgot his Jaffna roots. Through the decades Arni has remained steadfastly connected to the motherland. In June this year, he escorted a team of 20 second-generation British-Sri Lankan graduates in their first year of employment, together with some undergraduates on a tour of the east and north of the island. Amongst them they possess various skills including IT, cutting-edge AI knowledge, medical, social sciences, and more.

Starting in the east in Batticaloa, then proceeding to Jaffna via Trinco, Vavuniya, and Kilinochchi, over the course of two weeks, the travelers have visited many orphanages, special needs children’s schools, and hospitals.

They’ve offered sports, music, and educational gifts along the way. However, it’s safe to say that beyond the tangibles, it’s the memories of the motivational chats, the mentoring, and the friendship shared with the children in orphanages that will remain in the hearts of both the givers and the receivers.

For Arni, whether it’s being out in the field, giving back to rural folk while providing an enriching experience to British youth who may otherwise never experience their ancestral homeland, or offering accountancy services and mentorship to other Sri Lankan startups, the genuine giving spirit he possesses places him among that exceptional breed of the diaspora Sri Lanka is fortunate to acknowledge globally.

Mentorship is a Beautiful Thing

The beauty of mentorship is that it is a ‘service’ that (usually) comes free of charge with no strings attached. The mentor is typically a senior person within their industry, often retired and always deeply committed to nurturing new talent, improving the prospects of underprivileged communities, and giving back in general for all the blessings that have come their way.

Mentors are not bound by social strata because they themselves have in many cases risen from poverty or difficult circumstances to conquer all obstacles in their way. They embody the term, ‘self-made’.

A true mentor is a friend for life, someone who will always be in your corner cheering you on.