Benefits for needy students include assistance with study materials, bursaries, entrepreneurship programmes, internships and donations of food.

Scores of Witsies filled the Senate Room at Solomon Mahlangu House to overflowing for the inaugural seminar launch of The Mentorship Boardroom at Wits University on May 19, 2022.

“It’s not every day that one gets such opportunities… to not only interact with people in our fields but experts and leaders in those fields,” said political studies master’s student, Nkateko Muloiwa.

The mentorship initiative was established in July 2021 to connect industry leaders who are willing to be mentors with those who sign up for mentoring.

Upon registering as mentees, students can choose mentors from a list that includes UCT vice-chancellor Mamokgethi Phakeng, TymeBank’s head of marketing Linda Appie and MTN group vice-president of the Eastern and Southern African region, and founder of the initiative, Yolanda Cuba.

Run completely virtually, the initiative boasts over 4 500 mentees with ages ranging from 20s to mid-50s, and almost 2 000 mentors from various industries and countries. The pairs schedule their own meetings on the platform.

At the Wits launch to share their journeys, and how they had benefited from being mentored through the initiative, were Niknaks marketing manager Zakithi Mncwango, artificial intelligence country advisor for Germany, Deshni Govender, as well as fintech and digital platform architect Byron Fortuin.

The Senate Room at Solomon Mahlangu House was overflowing with students for the launch of the mentorship initiative. Photo: Provided

“[The] Wits branch will provide assistance to students who are in need of study materials, bursaries, entrepreneurship programmes, internships and donations of food to the needy students,” said Scelo Kubheka, a master’s student in energy at the Wits Business School, and a member of the initiative’s Wits task team with Katleho Mokoena and Luyolo Somane.

During the launch’s interactive question-and-answer session, Cuba said that the initiative was not promising anyone anything but rather offering a virtual “platform that allows one-on-one interactions” between mentees and mentors that would otherwise never have met.” She added that mentees have the luxury to change mentors until they find their suitable match.

She assured students that even though there is no security screening on the website to prevent catfishing, safety declarations are required to be signed and participants have the option to keep their information private.

Mmasereko Diutlwileng, a first-year accounting sciences student, told Wits Vuvuzela that she had enjoyed the launch and would sign up to be a mentee as the initiative “has a lot to offer”.

The initiative plans to launch more branches at Cape Town, KwaZulu-Natal and Limpopo universities.

FEATURED IMAGE: SRC members were among students at the launch of the mentorship initiative at Solomon Mahlangu House. Photo: Provided