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Breaking Down Mentoring Silos in Ontario

Wed, Feb 29, 2012

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As I talk to some of the industry leaders – I’m more and more convinced that Ontario has some of the best mentoring programs for entrepreneurs anywhere in the world. The challenge is that few know how to access the program that best applies to them; and there’s a breakdown in collaboration/cooperation between programs, to achieve the best business outcomes.

I’m currently producing an event that will bring many of these programs together.  What occurred for me in a meeting recently, was what would be possible in creating a platform for collaboration and connecting the mentoring resources of these centres.

Yesterday, Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Innovation announced that a new system for business support will be designed from scratch.  (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/report-on-business/economy/ontario-to-rejig-business-support-programs/article2352751/)  Even though it will mean cuts to some programs (potentially even some of the ones I work with) – I’m excited that it will create an opportunity to break down the currently existing barriers between programs – which I feel can lead to more collaboration.

The ultimate winners (with a few exceptions) will be the entrepreneurs who need these services.  Imagine as a business owner walking into the equivalent of a Service Ontario for Business (Business Ontario?) office and having access to a mentorship program that connected you with an advisor in your field.  In some cases (for location based / territorial businesses) that mentor would be strategically located outside of your area.  What this will require is a commitment from the leaders of this sector to truly collaborate; and a common platform to share mentoring resources.  A better roadmap to access advisory services and a true culture of mentorship will improve our Ontario’s entrepreneurial success story.

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