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Mentorship as major cure to poverty – Part 2


Oprah Winfrey

Oprah Winfrey. Photo/Fox Business

Continued from yesterday

If overcoming poverty through acceptable means does not qualify as expertise, l wonder what else would. Rich people do not always come from wealthy backgrounds; many famous billionaires grew up poor. What makes the difference is their exposure to relevant knowledge provided by a mentor. These mentors might be family members, family friends, work and school associates, and concerned members of the community.
“Knowledge/awareness breeds courage. Courage breeds success”.


There are several individuals like Oprah and Ralph Lauren, both billionaires, media, and fashion icons respectively became rich through exposure made possible by mentors, were able to change their lives, and therefore become an inspiration to many. Oprah identified the need for exposure, popularity, desire to be heard, and feel important that people (most especially influential ones) have, and created an opportunity to meet those needs through her TV shows and entertainment outfit.

Several initiatives by groups that believe in mentoring as a means to overcome poverty have yielded positive results. Many organizations like Faithgane Foundation, the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and LIFT in the USA have been able to lift people out of poverty using the mentorship model. Some strategies like pairing low-income individuals and families with people who are advocates and mentors are where organizations are placing their bets to create pathways out of poverty for individuals and communities at large. Mentors also help to guide their mentees through such important tasks as polishing a resume, negotiating debt repayments, finding a job, ensuring good childcare and life strategies. It is this kind of initiative that can lift people out of poverty, not the ‘giving of fish’ approach—empowering people intellectually to solve not just their problems but that of others. That way, the effort put into lifting a person out of poverty will yield exponential results.


Every child is born with a wealth of potential. However, some are unable to fulfill their potential because of their inability to leverage the knowledge that can be acquired through mentorship. Suppose poverty will be kicked out in 2030. In that case, a concerted effort has to be made in promoting mentorship and putting both formal and informal mentorship structures in place. Organizations need to expose their human assets to sources (human and non-human) where information can be mined for actionable insight and creatively explore inherent or created opportunities to create value and capture value (wealth) for themselves and organization in return. If the collective wealth of organizations and by extension nations is increased and properly managed, it will translate to individual wealth – this is the ‘secret’ of wealthy economies. They promote and create a conducive environment for creativity, productivity, and actively encourage mentorship.

Productive people are greatly rewarded and motivated to do more. In contrast, people who are still far behind in the wealth ladder are placed on ‘support systems’ often termed social security. People in the informal sector should also be encouraged to embrace mentorship in the form of apprenticeships. The Igbo tribe in Nigeria have greatly maximized this option to wealth creation, and it is no surprise that they excel in trade within and outside the shores of their country. The richest man in Africa, Alhaji Aliko Dangote is also a product of the business mentoring he got from his uncle. The examples of people whose life has been transformed by mentorship are numerous, and it is quite apparent and indisputably one of the most viable routes to eliminating poverty.


Even though individuals, families, and nations can overcome poverty through other different legitimate programs and initiatives, mentorship remains a significant catalyst towards achieving financial success. Therefore, people who have valuable knowledge to offer should be open to the idea of mentoring others. In contrast, people who desire experience should actively search for mentors to break free from the chains of poverty.

A very popular Yoruba proverb reads like this in English: You can force a horse to the river, but you cannot force the horse to drink water. If you read this piece to this point, you have made a great effort. I will like to believe that my argument has been compelling enough too. But, none of all that will matter if you do not mentor someone or submit yourself to be mentored to wealth and abundance. No matter the plans or actions to take people out of poverty, it might become impossible to have a hundred percent poverty-free world because the root of poverty (ignorance) is in mind. It takes a willing mind to hate and fight indwelling ignorance. This is probably how Jesus thought when he said- “the poor shall always remain in your midst”.

Osiri is a mentorship awareness ambassador.

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