This summer, nine alumni volunteered to mentor recent graduates of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses entrepreneurship training program at LaGuardia Community College in New York City.
The goal of the program is to improve the entrepreneurial skills of small-business owners, often in underserved urban areas, and help their businesses grow, thereby creating jobs.
10,000 Small Businesses is built on three primary components: educational experience, access to capital, and business advising and technical assistance. For a four-month period, Babson mentors were paired with program graduates to help them use their new skills and overcome realworld challenges.
Patti Greene, the President’s Distinguished Professor of Entrepreneurship and the national academic director of the Goldman Sachs program, says that a substantial amount of the program is based on Babson principles, such as experiential and peer learning. Alumni are excellent mentors because they understand the philosophy of the 10,000 Small Businesses program. “Babson alumni bring a valuable entrepreneurial mindset and skill set to the mentoring experience,” she says.
Mikki Wosencroft ’99, a director of human resources, consumer products division at L’Oreal in New York City, mentored a businesswoman who plans to increase her business and change its staffing structure “It was valuable to work on many of the same issues I see at L’Oreal but on a much smaller scale,” says Wosencroft. “The opportunity to think about business challenges apart from my day-to-day work made me feel fresher about the situations I encounter.”
A serial entrepreneur, Michael McGuire ’88 is the founder of Greenwich, Conn.-based Triple Trunk Capital LLC, a structured finance firm that focuses on the Russian market. He felt that his skills, gained from dealing with all aspects of his businesses’ life cycles, would be helpful. “What I did in 1990 is different from what I do now,” he says. “The program helped me understand more about the challenges of starting a business in today’s economy, and my experience helped the business owner I mentored understand the need for a business to keep reinventing and adapting.”
The mentors pointed out that even though businesses may be different, all are built on a similar foundation. Both valued the opportunity to collaborate with small-business owners and help them identify and focus on critical issues, two skills, they said, that are hallmarks of Babson’s entrepreneurial culture.