Entrepreneurship For All (EforAll) Seeking Mentors: Learn How To Contribute Your Time And Expertise

Brian Whitney MTI President

It’s been said by someone wiser than me that, “innovation is the process of converting ideas into invoices.”

Are you interested in exploring a highly rewarding and gratifying volunteer experience where you can use your well-earned knowledge and experience to help Maine entrepreneurs grow their businesses, overcome challenges, and seize upon opportunities?  If so, please continue to read on to learn how you can play a meaningful role in the growth of Maine’s economy by providing guidance and mentorship to startup founders as they work to convert their unique ideas into new businesses and income.

You know, as MTI was preparing to deploy more than $80 million in Maine Jobs & Recovery Plan/American Rescue Plan Act (MJRP/ARPA) funding back in 2020, we engaged in a series of community discussions to get input on our plans to distribute the funding. Many of MTI’s innovation ecosystem partners and stakeholders participated in those sessions. Consistent with the federal funding guidelines, several of those sessions were focused on the needs of underserved communities and entrepreneurs.

One of the clear takeaways from our conversations with underrepresented entrepreneurs was that deep community connections were necessary to bridge the digital, language, and knowledge divide. To address these issues, we began conversations with philanthropic organizations and other partners to develop solutions to overcome some of these challenges.  All the organizations expressed an interest in helping to address these potential barriers, but they also wanted to see a deeper and more direct commitment from MTI to developing a pipeline of diverse entrepreneurs.

MTI and Krystal Williams – – a consultant to MTI with extensive expertise in this area – – also examined what other states were doing to help accelerate or, in some instances, restart the economic engines in underserved communities. Krystal’s search led us to the successful Entrepreneurship for All (EforAll) program, based in Massachusetts, whose mission is to accelerate economic and social impact in communities nationwide through inclusive entrepreneurship.

EforAll serves historically excluded and underserved communities and offers its programming for free to participants.  EforAll has demonstrated success driven by deep community engagement and its model is part community economic development and part business accelerator.  Following extensive conversations and negotiations, MTI made a three-year funding commitment to EforAll to help bring this entrepreneurial resource to Maine.

EforAll has been busy establishing its Maine organization and has formed regional partnerships with a number of Maine organizations including: the Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, University of Maine Business School, Greater Portland Immigrant Welcome Center, 75 Park – a coworking and business mentorship space in Lewiston, Community Concepts, In Her Presence, Androscoggin Bank, Bangor Savings Bank, Camden National Bank, Gorham Savings Bank, Mascoma Bank, City of Lewiston, and the Roux Institute, to name just a few.

EforAll is launching its first business accelerator cohort in the first quarter of 2024.  The accelerator is a free, one-year program to “help entrepreneurs from under-resourced communities bring their ideas to life.”  As part of the accelerator, each entrepreneur is paired with two to three mentors that will act as their board of advisors. Mentors provide ongoing support and encouragement to an aspiring entrepreneur looking to start a business in Maine.

Mentors meet with their entrepreneurs once a week for 90 minutes. As part of a dedicated team, mentors impart their knowledge and professional experience to help the entrepreneurs grow their businesses, overcome challenges, and seize upon opportunities. The mentor role is terrific for anyone looking for a highly rewarding and gratifying volunteer experience who can dedicate the time needed to help someone pursue their business dream.

You can find out more about being a mentor at the EforAll website or by attending one of these upcoming webinars!

I am keenly aware that many of the loyal readers of MTI’s eNews have impressive backgrounds and experience that could provide incredible value to entrepreneurs seeking to launch businesses in Maine. I encourage you to reach out to EforAll, or to attend one of the aforementioned webinars, to explore how you can help contribute to building a prosperous Maine economy.

Thank you, in advance, for your help!

Best,
Brian