MONCTON – Luc Jalbert, the co-founder of Prelam Enterprises, says a new mentorship program for existing entrepreneurs operated by a Université de Moncton centre is “a major leap.”
“When I was younger [and got] started in business, I had the guts to go and ask business people. I’d knock on their door and ask advice. But most people don’t do that,” said Jalbert. “So the fact that there’s a program they can tie in to and get matched with someone that’s already in business and went through failure and success, and everything that goes with it, that makes a big difference.”
On Monday, the federal government announced it was contributing $94,875 through the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) Business Development Program. The mentorship program, delivered in French, is run by the Centre Assomption de Recherche et de Développement en Entrepreneuriat (CARDE), with the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick (CÉNB) as a partner.
CARDE already operates a program for students. Jalbert, who has been a mentor in that program since 2015, said the program has helped match students with mentors based on their skillsets and industry.
CÉNB CEO Thomas Raffy said expanding the program to include existing entrepreneurs stemmed from a report on the organization’s provincial tour in 2017. Many business leaders said mentorship was something that would be helpful.
“Because when you’re in the first three years of your business, you don’t necessarily know what you’re supposed to do,” said Raffy. “Or you think you know, but you’re too afraid to consult with other people because it might be competition … they needed a safe environment to have that mentorship.”
With CARDE’s mentorship program already up and running at the time, CÉNB decided to work with CARDE to launch a mentorship program for entrepreneurs.
“We said there’s no need to duplicate this and you open your own. Let’s just open a second branch from our program. So that’s what this funding is allowing us to do,” CARDE Director Pauline Roy said.
The Patrick Albert Entrepreneurship Mentorship Program was first launched in 2015 to encourage innovative thinking and provide one-on-one guidance to student entrepreneurs by matching them with mentors who are familiar with the regional business climate. But the expansion will allow entrepreneurs with startups or small-and-medium-sized enterprises in the first three years of business to become mentees.
With an expanded target, delivery of the program may be a little different, “but the intention is the same,” she said.
“It’s to get the leadership in our business community to support up-and-coming entrepreneurs in the region,” she said.
The expanded program is still in the development stage, but for the first year, Roy says she hopes to reach 15 to 20 entrepreneurs who want mentorship. They are now looking for mentors and participants for the new program.