LOLONGAlaunch.jpgShanduka Black Umbrellas (SBU) has officially launched the Johnson & Johnson LOLONGA Mentoring Programme in Cape Town.

The programme is a pilot of the LOLONGA initiative started between the two entities in November 2013; Johnson & Johnson encouraged its employees around the world to become mentors and provide online assistance and support to businesses in the SBU programme.

From left to righ: Ruben Taborda, Group Chief Procurement Officer MD&D, Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies, Daniel Aebischer, Head of Procurement for Sub-Saharan Africa, Johnson & Johnson Pty, and Mark Frankel, SBU CEO. A Q&A at the SMME Procurement workshop hosted by Johnson & Johnson.

To date more than 50 mentors from Johnson & Johnson have joined the LOLONGA Mentoring Programme.

“The partnership opens a wealth of opportunity for our clients throughout the country,” says Cape Town SBU regional manager Donavon Goliath.

LOLONGA is enabled by SBU’s online mentoring platform, the GROW portal, hosted on its Shanduka Blackpages (SBP) enterprise and supplier development portal, which facilitates online mentoring activities between mentors and mentees, no matter where they are based.

“The interaction with our clients and the LOLONGA mentors has proven that a global reach can be possible, although the mentors may be based in a different country to their mentee; they are still able to make meaningful contributions through telephonic, Skype and email interactions. These mentors provide much value to the entrepreneurs.”

The importance of mentoring small or start-up suppliers

The idea of a mentor is not a new concept.It’s recorded in Homer’s epic Greek poem The Odyssey, where the scholar mentor serves as a guide to Telemachus, dispensing his wisdom to help him make the right choices.

Mentoring is a critical component of an enterprise development programme,says SBU.

The most popular would-be mentor among small business owners in the UK in a recent survey conducted by Opinium for the digital lender Everlinewas Virgin founder Sir Richard Branson, who has a message for start-ups and entrepreneurs as well as those who have already made it:

“Mentoring was very important for me personally in my career. If you want success then it takes hard work, hard work and more hard work. But it also takes a little help along the way. If you are looking to make your way in business, try to find a mentor. If you are in a position to share the skills you have learned, give something back by becoming a mentor yourself.”