Yolanda Shields, founder and CEO of YES Builds Coaching & Consulting, is a global business advisor, strategist and best-selling author who has over 20 years of experience as a business leader. Based in the United States, she has a burning drive from the entrepreneurship ecosystem, having travelled extensively throughout the United States, France and Africa.
She spoke to the Tony Elumelu Foundation team about her decision to become a mentor on the entrepreneurship programme in 2018 and her experiences so far.
Q: Tell us about yourself and your business?
A: I am a speaker and a trainer in the area of business start-up, entrepreneurship, non-profit start up and sustainability, fund development, proposal writing, public/private partnerships, human capital management, career development, and social entrepreneurship/ B-Corp. I serve and guide individual entrepreneurs or companies to new levels, expand growth and scale businesses to make a significant impact to produce an increased value that stands out among others. I love working in a collaborative way with leaders to translate business vision into strategic plans that are aligned to execute with excellence and sustainability.
Q: Why did you decide to become a Tony Elumelu Foundation (TEF) Mentor?
A: I decided to become a TEF mentor because I believe entrepreneurship is the key to job creation and decreasing the level of poverty in Africa.
Q: What’s the most encouraging experience you have had while working with our entrepreneurs?
A: It was very rewarding to see the entrepreneurs that I work with believe that they could move their idea forward if they put in the work.
Q: What are the challenges you have faced so far mentoring the TEF Entrepreneurs?
A: The biggest issue was internet connection. However, we utilized several communication methods to make sure they received that support they needed to be successful.
Q: How has your experience as a mentor in TEF Programme benefited or affected the way you run your own business?
A: This experience has allowed me to understand even more how important it’s to prepare the next generation to lead well and the importance of not just thinking about your own success but the success of others. I also learned from them about the new ways to look at business innovation when you lack all the resources.
Q: Beyond the TEF Entrepreneurship Module that you use for your mentoring duties, what other life lessons do you constantly share with your mentees?
A: The one thing that I always share with mentees is the importance of collaboration. We all need help to succeed so it is important to seek meaningful collaboration to enable us to move faster and sustain what we are creating.
Q: Any advice for budding entrepreneurs who will read this piece?
A: To become an empowered leader or entrepreneur, you need to be confident, teachable, a lifelong learner, humble, a giver and a great listener.
To reach Yolanda Shields or YES Builds Coaching & Consulting, visit www.yesbuilds.com