Gaining confidence through mentoring

In 2019, we released Mowgli’s 10 Year Impact report which demonstrated the power of mentoring in creating an enabling environment for individuals to flourish. Through our participants’ stories, as well as our impact data, we can clearly showcased how mentoring enhances the personal and professional development of the entrepreneurs and organisational leaders we support through various programmes.

One of the stories we published was Sboniso Phakathi’s mentoring journey, as a mentee within the MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy. Read his story below.

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Copyright. MAVA Nature Leaders Academy. Common Purpose UK

“I work for the Southern African Wildlife College, which specialises in conservation education, training and skills development across the Southern African Development Community. I have been at the college for five years and have made my way up, recently taking over from a professor. Without a higher education degree, that was quite a daunting transition for me and while I was excited by the opportunity, I lacked confidence in my new role.”

“When my CEO suggested I apply to MAVA’s Leaders for Nature Academy, I felt I wasn’t senior enough. But I am so glad I did apply as the experience has been transformational. The programme helps young people engaged in conservation to lead beyond authority. It is deeply experiential, instilling leadership essentials into us and increasing our capacity and strength.

“I had previously had a technical mentor at work who is familiar with my role as the Rural Initiatives for a Sustainable Environment Unit Projects Leader and helps me to navigate workplace politics. But the Mowgli mentoring model was a totally different experience which helped me gain overall confidence in myself and my work. I connected with a mentor within the first few hours of the two-day Kickstart workshop in Amman and really wanted to work with him. Luckily he felt the same and we were matched together by the facilitators.”

“Over the following year, my mentor had so much time for me. He helped me to analyse myself, my insecurities and what I was going through, to become a more competent human being. It was a novel experience in being able to speak one’s heart out and in return receive guidance from someone who was a relative stranger given the amount of time we had known each other. This really had an influence on my practice.”

Developing confidence

“Since being involved in the MAVA Academy, I have gained confidence and now deal with difficult situations more decisively. I am more comfortable engaging with senior managers and our partner organisations. I now have the confidence to approach industry leaders, market our unit to them and influence their practice and the industry as a whole.”


“My relationship with myself has also changed. I am less fearful and more confident in my abilities. I have the courage to ask technical questions. I better understand my routines and patterns of thinking. The mentoring also gave me the opportunity to step back, be a lot calmer, question my beliefs about myself, understand what is really preventing me from reaching my potential and avoid self-sabotage. In short, I am in a better place inside myself than I was a year ago.”

“I would recommend everyone to find a skilled and committed mentor for both your professional and personal life, to help you emphasise your own development and embody exemplary leadership. Everyone should have a Yoda! But to get the most out of it you have to commit to it, and trust the process. Change can be slow and painful but in the end it is worth it.”

The MAVA Leaders for Nature Academy worked with Mowgli Mentoring, Common Purpose and the MAVA foundation to bring together young and senior leaders for a mentoring and leadership programme to strengthen the sustainability of their conservation partners in years to come.

We work with governments, banks, corporations and other private sector partners to create the transformational leadership development programmes. Contact us at to see how we can contribute to your goals.

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A not-for-profit driving inclusive economic & social change in Africa and Middle East by empowering entrepreneurs, employees, women and youth through mentoring

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