Influence of mentorship in the creation and maintenance of new ventures in the energy sector in Kenya
Approximately 77% of new business ventures are prematurely abandoned due to entrepreneurial mistakes. The new entrepreneur’s decision to create a new business venture on his or her own without first seeking guidance from an experienced mentor may negatively impact his or her start-up venture’s performance. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to gain an understanding of the aspects of entrepreneurial mentoring that were perceived to improve new entrepreneurs’ selfefficacy in venture creation from the mentors’ perspective. Respondents included 10 experienced male and female, entrepreneurs within the energy sector in Kenya. As new entrepreneurs respondents managed their own startup ventures without a mentor, which resulted in failure, and sought the assistance of an experienced mentor. Currently, respondents serve as mentors to other new entrepreneurs. This phenomenological approach included indepth, open-ended interviews containing 23 previously published questions to ascertain the mentors’ perspectives of their mentoring relationships on venture creation retrospectively, as new entrepreneurs, and currently, as mentors. The phenomenological method was used to collect, examine, analyze, and interpret the data. Findings revealed that new entrepreneurs’ optimism and self-confidence were perceived to be negatively influenced by their inadequate business and knowledge structure, allowing them to ignore valuable information necessary to grow new start-up ventures. Through mentorship, new entrepreneurs were taught strategies to craft solutions to potential and existing start-up venture pitfalls. New entrepreneurs reported improved knowledge and self-efficacy were perceived to be consistent with their venture success, as indicated by increased strategic alliances, partnership agreements with other experienced business owners, increased ability to identify customers’ needs, increased optimism and commitment to learning from other experienced entrepreneurs, and increased willingness to help others learn the needed competencies to grow their own ventures. It is recommended that mentors provide reassurance to mentees and that new entrepreneurs discuss a mentor’s experiences prior to seeking mentorship as this may determine the level of motivation, insights, knowledge, and experience the mentors may bring to the relationship. Future research is recommended to explore mentorship in a sample comprised of new entrepreneurs, as opposed to a retrospective account by experienced entrepreneurs, to determine whether the respondents’ improved self-efficacy in venture creation has influenced their perceptions of mentorship.