My StartUp spoke with Kristle Calisto-Tavares, a Mentor-in-Residence at Futurpreneur Canada, to learn more about their mentoring programs and how they can help drive mentoring relationships with Canadian entrepreneurs.
Futurpreneur is now approaching its 20th year promoting entrepreneurship and forging connections between start-up businesses, mentors, and financing.
Calisto-Tavares makes a compelling case that Futurpreneur now offers the “gold standard” of mentoring programs.
Kristle Calisto-Tavares speaks authoritatively about mentoring. In fact, the subject practically emanates from her pores.
“I’m passionate about mentoring because I have experienced it,” says Calisto-Tavares. “I see that it works; I see that it has an impact. I see that it produces a more confident, more thoughtful, more well-rounded individual who is able to be resourceful and who can problem-solve: they have someone in their corner who is supporting them.”
Futurpreneur’s mentoring heritage means it is big on knowledge translation and skills transfer. Futurpreneur offers a wealth of resources, tools, and networking opportunities that help facilitate and drive mentoring relationships.
“We are subject matter experts on entrepreneurial mentoring,” says Calisto-Tavares. “We have a catalogue in our Business Resource centre on the website where there’s 20-some crash courses in “Prezi” format; 5-10 minutes covering a variety of topics.”
Futurpreneur’s mentoring philosophy focuses on the concept of strategic mentoring and covers three different areas:
- Business development
- Professional development of the entrepreneur
- Cultivating the mentoring relationship itself
Futurpreneur is a long-standing player in the world of entrepreneurship and it has evolved into one of Canada’s go-to resources for mentoring.
“We’ve included and integrated best practices from all of the greatest (mentoring) programs and are meeting international standards; we are actually a thought leader in this area,” says Calisto-Tavares. “We have something here that we have cultivated and evolved, and in fact, continue to evolve. That’s what makes our program one that we know that entrepreneurs and mentors want to be a part of.”
Many mentors are keen to give back, but that’s only one motivation.
“In addition to that, they might want to be able to build their network with other mentor-minded individuals, so they want to know: are there opportunities for that?” asks Calisto-Tavares. “We have an event framework called Entrepeer, which enables both young entrepreneurs and mentors to attend and do informal networking.”
What of the benefits of mentoring to a young entrepreneur? “We know there is a lot of knowledge and skill transfer between mentors and their mentees,” says Calisto-Tavares. “It’s the knowledge or the experience that the mentor shares, some of the story telling, some of the mistakes and pitfalls that they encountered in their journey that they’re sharing with the mentee–it helps to create opportunities for skill-building and for knowledge transfer.”
Calisto-Tavares provides a few overarching recommendations for entrepreneurs that can underwrite a successful mentoring relationship:
- Be prepared to do the hard work of an entrepreneur
- Be accountable
- Be the driver of your mentoring relationship
- Engage with your mentor
- Articulate the kind of feedback or the kind of guidance that you’re looking for
There’s no arguing with the numbers if you’re looking for the value of a mentoring program at Futurpreneur: they’ve helped launch and support close to 6,000 businesses, with a promising stable of prospects coming down the pipeline.
“That number is jumping dramatically, because we’re financing a little over a thousand entrepreneurs in this fiscal year alone,” says Calisto-Tavares. “The growth is really extraordinary.”
The future of mentoring is another consideration that keeps Calisto-Tavares engaged.
“With more and more young people starting businesses, having that guidance and that ability to tap into skills and experience from someone who’s been there and done that is going to be more and more necessary if you do want to be successful.”
Futurpreneur’s various mentoring offerings and resources are well-covered on their website. Be sure to pay close attention to their motto as you consider the possibilities: “Fuel the passion. Leave an impact.”
You can follow Futurpreneur’s Mentor-in-Residence on Twitter @FuturpreneurMIR