Mercy Corps’ MicroMentor Scales up Efforts to Curb COVID-19's Devastating Economic Blow to Small Businesses Globally

The world's largest mentorship platform is joined by major U.S. companies including Tripadvisor, Verizon and S&P Global. 

PORTLAND, OR -- MicroMentor, an initiative of the global organization Mercy Corps, and the world’s largest online community of entrepreneurs and volunteer business mentors, is scaling up efforts to curb COVID-19’s devastating economic blow to small businesses globally. 

The mentoring platform pledges to support 100,000 entrepreneurs affected by COVID-19, including at least 18,000 Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)-owned businesses in the U.S. who have been impacted by the pandemic.

“Almost one year into the pandemic, we continue to see small businesses report revenue loss because of global economic slowdowns,” says Anita Ramachandran, Executive Director of MicroMentor. “Mentorship is a powerful tool to keep small businesses open and encourage entrepreneurs during these turbulent times, we’ve found that business owners who have connected with a mentor report a more positive outlook on their business.”
Major U.S. companies such as Verizon, Tripadvisor and S&P Global have stepped up to support MicroMentor’s COVID-19 response, while their employees volunteer their expertise to entrepreneurs trying to stay afloat. MicroMentor recruits entrepreneurs and mentors for virtual mentorship programs in the United States and around the world.

The majority of small businesses across the United States are struggling to stay afloat, and BIPOC-owned businesses are particularly at a disadvantage. The National Bureau of Economic Research found that the number of Black and Latinx-owned small businesses plummeted from February to April last year due to COVID-19, with the number of Black-owned businesses falling from 1.1 million in February 2020 to 640,000 in April. 

“People of color and otherwise marginalized communities are experiencing far greater economic losses as a result of the pandemic,” says Ramachandran. “Giving these entrepreneurs a lifeline -- a connection to experienced business leaders who can offer advice -- decreases isolation and loneliness while increasing business stability and resilience in the months to come.” 

Currently, 58% of US-based entrepreneurs on the MicroMentor platform identify as non-white. MicroMentor aims to recruit 30,000 additional mentors, with a target of at least 3,000 new U.S.-based BIPOC mentors, to the platform.

Notes to Editors:

About MicroMentor:
Since 2008, MicroMentor has fostered more than 70,000 entrepreneur-mentor connections across 179 countries. 40% of entrepreneurs on MicroMentor report not having access to any other business development resources, making this community their only source of business support. In 2020, volunteer mentors provided $9 million in pro-bono services and MicroMentor helped add 1,700 jobs to the economy, safeguarding an additional 2,700.

From March–December 2020, entrepreneur sign-ups on MicroMentor jumped 86% over the same time period last year with more than 30,000 new sign-ups. New mentor sign-ups increased by more than 10,000, an 99% increase.

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About MicroMentor’s partners:
Volunteer business mentors from Verizon have made up 4% of new mentor sign-ups between March and December 2020, providing an estimated $189,000 in pro bono services to date. Tripadvisor is also joining MicroMentor’s efforts by launching new employee volunteering programs in 2021 that will train their experienced professionals to mentor business owners in need. S&P Global has pledged their support to MicroMentor in order to fund the operational costs of reaching 100,000 COVID-affected entrepreneurs.