MicroMentor is an initiative of Mercy Corps
Dorit Kagy, a Los Angeles businesswoman, is busy. While working full time for IBM, working towards an MBA, and working on getting used to being a new mother, she decided she wanted to help others. While looking for some online volunteer opportunities, she discovered MicroMentor, which would allow her to volunteer from the comfort of her own home, while using her business expertise to help other women in business. “I think this is the perfect opportunity,” said Kagy.
Founded in 2002, MicroMentor offers business professionals a chance to engage in meaningful volunteer opportunities by helping small business owners take their businesses to the next level. “MicroMentor is a free online service that connects small business owners with business mentors. Mentors “give back” by sharing their experience and expertise. [The matching of mentor and mentee is] kind of like online dating,” said Samantha Mafchir, Program Associate at MicroMentor.
Kagy has worked with four different entrepreneurs since she began volunteering in 2007. She has specifically looked for women in industries with which she was familiar. Not surprising considering her experience building business campaigns with both IBM and a tech startup company, Dorit especially enjoys helping her mentees with marketing and building business models. “I wanted to work with women who need marketing help or guidance on understanding how to have their business featured in other media,” said Kagy. “When I actually talk to people who are starting their own business, it becomes so real,” she added.
Sometimes mentees are looking for longer term relationships; other times, they just need advice or guidance on their marketing efforts. Currently, Kagy is working with one woman mentee who builds and designs furniture and accessories for offices. “It’s so much fun because it allows me to be creative. I get to hear about what other women are doing,” said Kagy. “I am always so impressed by these women who change their lives completely around and start new their own business,” she added.
Mentors must have an area of expertise in finance, marketing or accounting and they cannot be promoting their own service. “Entrepreneurs who have come through the MicroMentor program have a greater survival rate of 74% (8% higher than national average) and have increased their annual revenue by 63%” said Mafchir.”
Aside from the several roles Kagy plays in a day, she finds it easy and accommodating to be a part of MicroMentor. She typically boxes out time on her calendar to talk to her mentees and always finds a way to balance her day, even if it means staying at work a little longer. “With MicroMentor it’s so to be flexible,” said Kagy. “It’s sort of like an extension of my job.”
She enjoys every minute of it. “It’s very easy to participate and I am inspired about what these women do with their business. I think being a mentor is so much fun–I get a lot out of it,” she added.