The Path Forward: Fostering Innovation, Equity, and Community

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Over the last two years, the global pandemic has tested our resilience and impacted all of us in ways we could not have fathomed back in late 2019. Entrepreneurs around the world have been forced to face difficult circumstances and decisions. At the same time, our community reached a record number of more than 63,800 new entrepreneurs seeking mentorship between July 2020–June 2021.

An additional 16,000 new mentors stepped up to offer their support in the same year. These mentors encouraged entrepreneurs to trust their instincts and provided clear strategies for pivoting businesses to meet new and evolving realities. Their guidance helped entrepreneurs to feel financially secure, supported in their interpersonal relationships, and engaged in their daily lives. Together, we were able to generate and retain an estimated 8,749 jobs in 2020 at a rate of $186 USD per job.

Keep reading for more on MicroMentor’s impact and be sure to check out the full 2021 Impact Report.

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    Entrepreneurs like Marie Elia from Lebanon are fostering innovation, strengthening equity, and creating more resilient communities by starting businesses that address society’s pressing needs.

Finding Opportunities

MicroMentor has built a thriving virtual mentorship ecosystem of entrepreneurs, mentors, and program partners, delivering online business mentoring at scale around the world. Our easy-to-use social networking platform enables the world’s largest community of purpose-driven entrepreneurs and business mentors to create powerful connections, solve problems, and build successful businesses together. Since our founding in 2008, MicroMentor has built a global community of over 180,000 entrepreneurs and 50,000 mentors.

An estimated 8,749 jobs were created or retained at a rate of $186 per job as a result of the mentoring given through MicroMentor.

MicroMentor’s Pathway to Impact

When entrepreneurs have easy access to an experienced mentor through MicroMentor, they make better business decisions, experience greater access to resources, and build more resilient businesses. With mentoring, entrepreneurs are more likely to report improved confidence in a range of crucial business-related skills. These entrepreneurs also report increased access to business development resources, like financial capital and professional networks. The confluence of these outcomes is long-term business growth: entrepreneurs experience business expansion, increased revenue, and job creation as a result of the time, knowledge, and expertise invested in them by their virtual business mentors.

MicroMentor mentors donated more than $50 million USD of pro-bono services in the year 2020.
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    Resilient entrepreneurs make up the heart of MicroMentor's community. These entrepreneurs innovate through perseverance, work to foster equity, and strengthen their communities. Featured entrepreneurs, clockwise from top left: Bipana Dhakal (Nepal), Sabrina Jean Baptiste (USA), Zahra Omar (Egypt), George Gichuhi Kamau (Kenya)

Defining Resilience

MicroMentor is committed to promoting resilient leadership—but what does it mean to be resilient? Resilient leaders rise to the challenges that come their way and persevere. Their perseverance inspires them to innovate and pivot to meet the demands of an ever-changing business environment, to foster equity in a world where resources and opportunities are inequitably distributed, and to build strong and sustainable communities that are empowered to participate in meaningful change.

At MicroMentor, we have witnessed these manifestations of resilience time and again. Through the stories of our entrepreneurs, their mentors, and even members of the MicroMentor team, we have come to see the themes that arise alongside resilience. While resilience shows up in the world in many ways, we define entrepreneurial resilience as the confluence of Innovation, Equity, and Community.

Entrepreneurs with just a business idea are 25% more likely to launch their business with the help of a mentor.

Solving Problems, Changing Lives

Innovation is the driving force for change and resilience-building in the face of adversity and challenge.

  • Entrepreneurs are meeting challenges within their communities by building innovative solutions to pressing socio-economic problems.
  • Mentors participate in this innovation by fostering it and supporting entrepreneurs on their journeys toward making their visions become a reality.
  • The MicroMentor team is constantly evolving and innovating to deliver scalable access to business resources to under-resourced communities around the world.
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    Kenyan entrepreneur George tapped into his strengths and started his errand-running business to help make ends meet for his family. He worked with his mentor to develop a financial model, understand gaps in the market, and build his team. His business has since grown to include a logistics company and gig marketplace for people with disabilities.

    Innovative leaders like George push themselves to think out of the box to develop novel solutions to individual and systemic problems. MicroMentor supports these leaders by helping them connect with business mentors who can support their innovative ideas by sharing the relevant business development tools needed to turn an innovative idea into a lucrative venture.

Building Resilience in the Least Resourced Communities

Equity underscores MicroMentor’s vision and mission and describes the goal of many of our users who have dared to dream of a more equitable and just future.

  • Many entrepreneurs are fighting against systemic inequalities through their social enterprises by adopting equitable practices and by delivering products that bridge major need gaps in their communities.
  • Mentors are expanding access to valuable and critical business resources in a way that is redistributive and disruptive to a system that benefits from entrenched social, economic, and political inequalities.
  • Our user stories and survey data highlight that mentorship is a two-way learning process: one that facilitates growth for both mentors and entrepreneurs.
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    While the COVID-19 pandemic presented a unique set of challenges for most of the world, it has also exacerbated existing inequalities by disproportionately impacting marginalized communities. Many entrepreneurs in the MicroMentor community—like Bipana Dhakal of Nepal—are working towards building more equitable societies by redistributing access to otherwise unavailable resources.

    Bipana took matters into her own hands when COVID-19 shut down schools in her rural hometown. She started The Learning Fortress to deliver skills-based education to students aged 4–15. Working with her mentor, Vanessa Robinson, Bipana was able to secure a grant for the project and train volunteers from across the world to deliver virtual classes.

Entrepreneurs are 27% more likely to secure grants, equity, or debt financing with the help of a virtual business mentor.

Finding prosperity together

As a digital tool to bring entrepreneurs and mentors together, community is at the core of MicroMentor’s mission. Mentoring supports communities around the world, both through digital connection building and the work accomplished by our entrepreneurs. We truly believe that resilient leadership requires a commitment to collectivism and a “stronger together” attitude.

  • Many of our entrepreneurs are working to build stronger communities through social entrepreneurship. When they share their vision on MicroMentor, the voices of the communities they represent and serve are amplified.
  • Mentors and entrepreneurs form a robust online community that engages in an exchange of resources, ideas, and experiences.
  • Our diverse global programs and curated partner programs are central to MicroMentor’s community-building impact.
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    Amid a global pandemic, American entrepreneur Sabrina Jean Baptiste set out to prove that words can truly heal. Sabrina, a licensed mental health counselor, set out to fight the stigma against mental health and make mental health resources more accessible to the African American and Caribbean communities through her venture, Blackandexxtraordinary Designs. Sabrina aims to promote positive self-care by creating safe spaces for mental health discussions and by giving people a healthy outlet for their thoughts and emotions.

30% of entrepreneurs cited emotional support and/or stress management as one of the ways their mentors helped them in the face of COVID-19.

Building Transformative Relationships

Since 2008, more than 60,000 mentors have donated their time, knowledge, and insight on MicroMentor; guiding entrepreneurs on their journeys and supporting small businesses through challenging times. Yet entrepreneurs aren’t the only ones that stand to benefit from a business mentoring relationship. Giving back brings mentors a sense of purpose and meaning, it helps to hone their leadership and management skills, and it provides a way to make a direct contribution to overcoming the economic effects of the global pandemic.

The experiences of the MicroMentor community challenge the traditional notion that mentorship is a unidirectional learning process where the mentor teaches and the mentee learns. Mentorship is, in fact, a two-way learning experience that benefits both parties involved. A majority of mentors on the platform have reported improving the following skills by volunteering with MicroMentor:

  • Collaboration
  • Critical thinking and problem solving
  • Ability to develop innovative solutions
  • Communication
  • Leadership and coaching
  • Project management
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    Management consultant and mentor Valeria Alarcón provides innovative business solutions, coaches on high-level and organizational management, and provides comprehensive facilitation services in strategic planning with an intersectional and equity-based framework.

    To support as many entrepreneurs as possible, Valeria mentors as many people as she can, reaching out to potential mentees and responding to those who connect with her. Her mentorship mantra is simple—work together holistically and comprehensively, in a way that people, planet, and profit are all part of the equation. Valeria believes that a successful mentoring relationship is beneficial to both parties. As the mentor, she brings the tools, resources, knowledge, and expertise to the table. In return, she finds a sense of satisfaction, inspiration, and empowerment of her own.

Of those mentors who gave mentoring, 75% felt they had a greater sense of purpose as a result of their participation in MicroMentor. 76% felt that mentoring was relevant to their professional and personal growth.

Building a Supportive Ecosystem for Under-Resourced Entrepreneurs

MicroMentor is a global network powered by a high-class technology. Critical to scale and impact, MicroMentor partners with a diverse set of organizations from civil society, corporations, governments, and replication partners to deliver country-specific, regional, and global mentoring programs that promote economic development and skills-based volunteering.

The diversity of MicroMentor’s partnerships and programming alongside the expertise of our global staff has an impact on entrepreneurs that is both broad and deep. MicroMentor has proudly worked alongside partners to deliver the following programs in 2021:

  • 3 country and regional programs in partnership with Mercy Corps
  • 10 economic development and technical assistance programs
  • 8 employee engagement programs

To learn more about MicroMentor's impact in 2021, be sure to check out the full 2021 Impact Report.

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