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Local entrepreneurs get extra help through mentorship program

Small businesses and non-profit organizations have until the end of the month to apply to be part of the next cohort taking part

The Business Centre Guelph-Wellington is looking to help local entrepreneurs build some momentum.

The Momentum Business Mentor Program matches small businesses and non-profit organizations with advisors and mentors, who will help them through their various challenges and develop tangible strategies.

It's all thanks to a $126,000 Ontario Trillium Foundation grant given this spring, spread out over the course of a year, to support businesses looking for direction in response to COVID-19.

"We do a lot of work in startups and things like that, but we're trying to get more involved with the existing business community so that we could support them in whatever service they require," Kristel Manes, executive director, told GuelphToday.

The program is well underway, training four cohorts over the course of three months.

The first began in May, the second in July. There's two more cohorts being accepted, with applications for one open until the end of the month. The fourth cohort would start in November.

"The uptake was immediate," Manes said of the initial response. "Once we launched the original (application process), we had over 75 applications, which was pretty great."

Business owners get up to five hours with an advisor, have discussions, work on a project plan, and partner with a mentor to help them along the way.

"Some people use it for a growth strategy, quite honestly," Manes said.

"It's not always about pain points. Some people are like 'listen, we're growing so quickly, I need some help just to strategically figure out where we are taking this, where is the planning process.'"

Manes said there's already been some "big wins," and those stories will soon be available to the public.

And this was all before they were able to make the program announcement this week, with the provincial funding attached to it.

Now, Manes anticipates an onslaught of clients interested in taking part.

The funding is a one-time thing, so it's up in the air on whether the program will move ahead beyond 2022. Manes said she is working on other funding proposals so this work can continue.

If you'd like to apply for the program, you can do so on the Business Centre Guelph-Wellington website.


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