Success Story of e-Mentoring, Adult learners from Finland

In the summer of 2012, five mentees were selected for the project “e-Mentoring: New skills and competencies for new jobs”. These mentees had a few things in common; they were all immigrants and adult learners who wanted to establish their own enterprises in Finland. They wanted to have an experienced Finnish mentor with whom they would have the possibility to develop their business ideas. The mentees were Ross Worrell (USA), Gloria Lipombi (Belgium), Marianna Coltiletti (Italy), Ahmed Sabri (Morocco) and Iva Vo (Vietnam), and their mentor was Marja-Leena Sipilä (Finland).

Questions for Mentees

Why were you interested in participating in e-Mentoring?

- We wanted to have a Finnish mentor in order to get to know how to establish our own enterprises and how to start a business here in Finland. Everyone attended the entrepreneurial info sessions at EnterPrise Helsinki and there we heard about the possibility of e-Mentoring.

How was your group formed?

- Anu Vihonen, the national project coordinator and manager, received around 20 applications for e-Mentoring piloting. Based on the interviews and our feasible business ideas, we were the lucky ones who were selected.

How often did you meet?

- We started in July 2012 and continued until April 2013. We had three face-to-face meetings and 6-7 SKYPE sessions.

What did you talk about during your e-Mentoring sessions?

- Our group had a common goal which was “Our business will be operating in 2013. That happens by helping each other, sharing experiences and information”. The discussions were based on our goal. We also completed entrepreneurial tests which gave a basis for our discussions as well. Some of us made notes during our e-mentoring sessions and those notes are filed within the e-mentoring platform.

Is there anything you should have done that you did not do during mentoring process?

- We should have had more face-to-face meetings in the beginning. In that way, we would have felt more comfortable with each other during the SKYPE sessions.

 Now it´s April 2013; what about your business?

-       Ross Worrell:
My business idea is to develop a web portal for law firms dealing with patents. Most probably the business is ongoing by the end of this year.

-       Gloria Lipombi:
My idea is to import Belgium chocolate. During this project my business plan has evolved a lot and I have decided not to sell chocolate to consumers but instead to business clients. I´ll sell personalized chocolate to companies and I already have a supplier in Belgium! The name of my business is ChokElite and my e-mail is

-       Marianna Coltiletti:

My idea is to open my own showroom in Helsinki where to sell Finnish design. My business idea has changed a little bit during the project due to some unexpected circumstances and probably I will postpone the opening for the next year. In the meantime I will start a cooperation with the firm Jyrsijä Helsinki which makes high-quality Finnish wooden affairs and I sell also my own creations through this company.

-       Ahmed Sabri and Iva Vo:
We have a common business idea to import Argan oil to Scandinavian and Baltic countries. The process is ongoing; webpages will be open next month and also the package design will be ready.

-       All the mentees:

e-Mentoring has helped us a lot in improving our business ideas and plans. The development process has been long enough and has helped us to brighten our ideas. It’s very obvious that most of us will have our businesses running by the end of this year. Thanks for our experienced mentor and to all the other mentees.

This has been a great experience! At the beginning of next year we are planning to have a common happening where we´ll introduce our products for potential customers.

 Would you become a mentor in the future?

-       Yes, absolutely.


Questions for Mentor Marja-Leena Sipilä

How did you decide to start as a mentor for five Adult learners who wanted to start business in Finland?

I was contacted by Anu Vihonen who asked me to become a mentor for five mentees. I was very eager to start because the business ideas of mentees were so interesting and I wanted to see how e-Mentoring works.

What did you get for yourself as a mentor?

I learned how to be a mentor of a group, I got more familiar with IT tools and I got to know these wonderful immigrants from different cultures. I also enjoyed the fresh way my mentees were thinking.

Were there any challenges in the mentoring process?

The only real challenges were the technical problems when using SKYPE. However, we all learned all the time and gradually e-Mentoring sessions become easier. I think it would have been good to have more face-to-face meetings in the beginning; in that way it would have been easier to talk to each other right from the beginning.

How would you like to follow the development of the enterprises your mentees are going to establish?

We have agreed that mentees will tell about their progress. And I have promised to support them from now on as well.

Is there something else you´d like to mention?

It has been great to follow the development of entrepreneurial skills of mentees. I´m very proud that they have improved their business ideas so persistently and systematically. This project has been just great and I have enjoyed every moment of it.


Additional information: Mentor Marja-Leena Sipilä,, +358405775446

Written by Anu Vihonen, Annanet/Finland,,, +358405108246