Free MBA! Apply Now!

Andrew Zwicker
By Andrew Zwicker
March 5th, 2009

KAST’s new, cleverly titled project is called MBA (Mentorship and Business Assistance) program, and it’s an innovative new entrepreneurship program for the Kootenays. Launched in early January, the MBA brings together industry experts with up and coming professionals to offer their experience and knowledge through coaching, goal setting and general help in whatever field the ‘mentee’ needs assistance in. Driven by KAST and funded through Western Economic Diversification of Canada, the Columbia Basin Trust and KAST itself, the new program is overseen by Rossland’s Amber Hayes.

Hayes, who is also a partner in the Rossland-based online travel agency Adventure Engine, has taken her past experience in the mentorship world and is quickly turning it into a valuable tool available to businesses across the Kootenays.

“I have experience with having mentors and it’s been extremely valuable to me. When I heard about KAST putting together a mentorship program here I was just really excited about bringing that opoportunity to folks in the Kootenays.”

In a matter of weeks, Hayes has put the program together and launched it to the Kootenay business world; the first mentors and mentees are signed up and the expertise sharing has begun.

“We’re working on our fourth mentorship match right now, and we have a number of very exciting mentors waiting for mentees so I would really encourage companies out there who are innovative in their process, not just computer companies, to contact us and make an application on the KAST website. I can then hook them up with a mentor. Some of the mentors we have on board have spceialties in sales channels, venture capital raising, sales and marketing as well as IT for startup companies. These are successful individuals who have reached a place in their life where they want to give back to their industry.”

The program itself is priced right at the tidy sum of $0.00, making it a can’t lose opportunity. All that is required to be a mentee is having a need or desire to gain some advice, assitance or even just a sounding board to bounce ideas off. On the flip side, if you’re an experienced professional in your field and feeling the desire to give back to your industry, the commitment involved in being a mentor consists of a mere two to three hours a month.

“Sometimes as a business owner you get a little head down: you’re wearing a lot of hats and it is nice to have someone you can meet with, not just to get expertise, but to set goals and accomplish those goals together,” explained Hayes. “The mentee drives the mentorship relationship and develops what they feel are their needs where they could seek support fom someone with more expertise, success and experience to help them out with everything from decision making to management.”

The ultimate goal of the program is to network expertise. Running a business in the Kootenays comes with the challenges (and great benefits of course) of being in a relatively remote location without a large business population. Our remote location means that businesses in the Kootenays don’t often get the same benefits as companies in urban centers that have a greater access to networking and knowledge-sharing opportunites. Through KAST’s MBA program, the hope is to connect Kootenay companies with individuals who can add value to those companies and build lasting relationships with other professionals.

Currently, the program has more mentors than mentees; mentors are waiting for keen Kootenay entrepreneurs to take them up on their offer and soak in their wisdom. Mentors in the program come from as far as Vancouver and Calgary to build digital relationships with their mentees as wel as a few local busines pros who have signed on as well.

In addition to mentoring, the MBA program also offers subsidized business coaching and consulting for companies that are looking for something beyond the two hours of coaching the mentorship program provides.

Anyone in the business world, especially those who are braving the corporate landscape in launching and operating their own businesses, knows that it is not an easy road and any assitance, support and coaching along that road goes a long way. If you could use an extra set of eyes, years of experience and a helping hand, the KAST MBA program might be exactly what you’ve been looking for.

To learn more about the program and to register as either a mentor or mentee check out KAST’s webpage .

“What we’re hoping in these tedious economic times is to provide some additional suport to companies out there basically free of charge. The value they get out of it can be invaluable,” said Hayes.

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