Building effective mentor-mentee relationships

Published: 14 November 2015
Last edited: 01 April 2019

Once protected areas and Business Mentors are matched, they are brought together on a 10-day Residential Training Programme, set within an inspiring and relevant protected area setting. This aims to: build relationships between Business Mentors and protected area managers that allow for effective ongoing mentoring and collaboration; develop business and leadership skills that enable protected area managers to perform better in their roles and manage the protected area more effectively; build a clear action plan for enhancing management effectiveness; provide an opportunity for networking between African protected areas; and build a shared understanding of the importance of effective protected areas, and the possible impact of business decisions. Following the residential training, protected areas and their mentors work together in a mentor-mentee relationship for at least 12 months. Mentoring from this point is usually conducted remotely, although mentors sometimes visit their site to support the roll-out of business planning activities.


Alliance and partnership development
Collection of baseline and monitoring data and knowledge
Communication, outreach and awareness building
Education, training and other capacity development activities
Evaluation, effectiveness measures and learning
Management planning
Sustainable financing
Sustainable livelihoods
Technical interventions and infrastructure
Scale of implementation
Phase of solution

Enabling factors

Business Mentors deliver the training, which is guided by an 11-step business planning process and a Business Planning Toolkit (developed by Shell Foundation and UNESCO). In parallel, Earthwatch learning professionals provide training and coaching in leadership and management skills to both protected area managers and Business Mentors. The Residential Training Programme builds strong relationships that continue into the remote mentoring period. Committment to the implementation of action plans through ongoing colloaboration and partnership.

Lessons learned

Developing the less tangible ‘soft skills’ of protected area staff (e.g. leadership and communication skills) is just as crucial to success as the business planning content. The ESN Residential Training Programme includes activities and discussions that develop protected area manager confidence, capability, competence and skills that influence their ability to put the learnings into practice.