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Mentoring America’s entrepreneurs: Online platform connects entrepreneurs with volunteer mentors to boost small business success

June 29, 2011

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New “Mentoring America’s Entrepreneurs” Commitment to Action announced at Clinton Global Initiative America

PORTLAND, Ore. – Today, Mercy Corps and the Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) announced their Mentoring America’s Entrepreneurs commitment to action at Clinton Global Initiative America. This commitment is designed to improve access to high-quality, low-cost business mentoring services and help 10,000 US entrepreneurs build businesses and create jobs.

As communities across America struggle to rebuild and generate employment opportunities in the wake of the recent economic recession, entrepreneurs hold the potential to be a powerful force for change. Small businesses create two-thirds of net new jobs annually, and a 2009 report by the Kauffman Foundation found that young enterprises (startups and firms up to five years old) have accounted for nearly all net job creation since 1980.

Business mentoring is a proven mechanism for helping emerging entrepreneurs build more successful enterprises and create more jobs. Mercy Corps’ proprietary online mentoring platform – MicroMentor.org – employs a smart matching engine to bridge the gap between emerging entrepreneurs and skilled business volunteers.

With the Mentoring America’s Entrepreneurs commitment, Mercy Corps and AEO will advance the MicroMentor platform and develop a partner network of small business development organizations and corporations to scale up the delivery of business mentoring services to emerging entrepreneurs across the United States.

“MicroMentor is excited to be working with AEO to connect business professionals with Main Street businesses striving to grow and create in communities across the country,” said Jeff Jones, Program Director for MicroMentor. “Our Clinton Global Initiative America commitment offers a win-win solution; entrepreneurs receive advice to help their businesses succeed and mentors find a meaningful way to share their unique skills.”

MicroMentor's innovative technology and program model is scalable (the program currently supports 5,800 entrepreneurs and 3,300 mentors located in all 50 U.S. states, and has created 3,000 mentoring relationships), cost-effective (MicroMentor's cost per client was $195 in FY10, one-tenth the industry average), and impactful (participating entrepreneurs report a 75 percent increase in annual business revenues and a 68 percent increase in the number of jobs provided by their enterprises).

To participate in MicroMentor, mentees must be actively starting or growing a small business and mentors must have qualified business experience (usually five or more years of management). For more information about the program, or to become a business mentor or mentee, please visit micromentor.org.