Mentoring: professionals help small entrepreneurs

Published on Wednesday, 25 August 2021

“Thus, from April to mid-August of this year, Enel volunteers and their respective entrepreneurs embarked on this experience, conceived as a result of the economic crisis caused by the pandemic, so it was not only a mentoring but also to adapt to an even more adverse context.”

A nice challenge

Carolina Vergara is an aero yoga instructor in San Carlos, Ñuble Region. In 2019 she formalized her longed-for venture EsPazcio, delivering in-person classes at a center in the city that she rented, but felt that was not all she wanted to do. "I always liked the subject of counseling, linked to the emotional, so I got a little lost, and then I said, 'here I need help, I need someone to help me define the core of my business, to help me define it in three words'".

Carolina Vergara in her aero yoga classes and displaying some of her yoga products.

Like Carolina, just before the pandemic, Rosita Marchan created an eco-furniture SME, the Casa del Pallet, along with nine other people. NGO Sembra and Enel's Sustainability and Community Relations territorial team supported the enterprise's foundation, delivering tools and machinery for furniture manufacture.

Already in the first online meeting with Rosita, Eduardo learned about her concerns and problems. "The first goal was to organize his business, from clarifying the corporate situation to identifying what was happening with his money. For the SME to deliver a monthly salary, we had to understand how the entire value chain worked and how to optimize it," Eduardo says.

After some online sessions, they were able to meet in person. Eduardo and the Enel Sustainability Team went to Route 115, almost on the border with Argentina, to visit Rosita's house and her new workshop.

Rosita Marchan, together with Eduardo Silva and Pablo Castiglione from Enel Chile's Sustainability and Community Relations team.

“For me, it was a gratifying, enriching experience. I also grew, along with Rosita, in my ability to see that we all have something to give. To see it do new things was fantastic for me. To be able to accompany that growth and see it so closely is an unforgettable and unique experience, and it makes me want to do it again.”

– Eduardo Silva, Engineering and Hydraulic Construction Manager of Enel Generación.

In their last online meeting, Rosita commented that her son "told her that now she spoke like an entrepreneur, that she even changed how she spoke," Eduardo laughs.

EsPAZcio’s progress was not so different. In her first meeting with Maria Elizabeth, Carolina told her she only had two clients. After months of mentoring, she currently has 11 trainees, plus four other business ventures. Also, the Municipality of San Carlos recently confirmed that they accepted her proposal for an on-site work reintegration program.

"Now I can make a presentation knowing what I am offering and why I am offering it. The energy and confidence that you transmit is different (...) the security that I feel today after this work with María Elizabeth has been potent," says Carolina.

Reorienting the business model, digitizing activities, reducing costs, or obtaining financing were specific tasks where mentors could help their entrepreneurs.

“'Feeling accompanied in the first steps' is the actual value of the program because for her, 'if there is something that every entrepreneur has to fight against, it is loneliness.' ”

– Carolina Vergara, an entrepreneur from the Maule region.

"Our meetings were conversations about experiences, about asking each other questions. I also installed in her this good practice, to ask her peers, her students, what am I doing right, what am I doing wrong, what do you like, what don't you like? One always has the vanity of believing that what one is doing does it in an unbeatable way and that everyone sees it that way", assures the industrial civil engineer.

When talking about Carolina's dream for her project, she envisioned creating a center in San Carlos that would contain yoga classes, a marketplace for entrepreneurs, and cabins "for people to stay and connect with nature.” Maria Elizabeth commented, "I like it very, very much; when I am old and retired, I will take a program to enjoy it."  Carolina smiled, and they promised that when the pandemic was over, they would get together in San Carlos for an aero yoga class.