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Since its inception in 2000, the mentorship network of the Fondation de l’entrepreneurship has certified 70 cells in Québec, with over 1,100 mentors who have assisted 2,750 entrepreneurs.
2008 — Economic
Alcoa supports mentorship for North Shore entrepreneurs
In partnership with the Centre local de développement de Manicouagan, Alcoa Canada Primary Metals has helped create a mentoring service to assist young companies in the region to reach the crucial five-year mark.
The program, which is also supported by the Société d’aide au développement de la collectivity and the Fondation de l’entrepreneurship, pairs a young entrepreneur with a mentor for a period of 12-24 months. In most cases, the mentored have been in business for five years or less, since the future success of a company is often decided during these years. In fact, 65% of companies do not make it past the five-year mark.
The mentors are seasoned professionals, generally close to retirement or retired. Gilbert Savard, former general manager of the Baie-Comeau Smelter, is one of these mentors, who are asked to dedicate about an hour and a half a month to sharing their knowledge with the next generation of leaders.
In fact, mentorship is more often a transfer of business “know-what” than know-how. The mentored can certainly benefit from certain “tricks” from their mentor, but the fundamental idea behind the program is to really guide the entrepreneur through the often tortuous maze of business ownership. Independent and strategic decision-making, delegation and work/home balance are just some of the issues tackled during these meetings.
To avoid that the discussion becomes too focused on exchanging “tricks”, the mentors are paired with someone who does not work in the same sector as they did. In addition, the meetings are often held in a neutral location to facilitate conversation and create an atmosphere in which both participants can get to know one another better. All discussions remain confidential.
In April 2008, six months after it was created, the mentorship service had matched up 11 pairs – one more than its target. And since 20 requests had been made, Frédéric Leblanc, the service’s coordinator, plans to invite willing mentors to take a second entrepreneur under their wing.