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MindFrame Connect: Program evaluation

Canada | 2024

Mentors play a crucial role in the Canadian entrepreneurial ecosystem, and they can transfer decades of knowledge to new founders and prospective entrepreneurs. Research has found that 75% of new founders have used a business mentor. A gap remains, however, as there are few resources, especially training, to guide mentors and mentees in that often-complex relationship. Research also shows that women and racialized entrepreneurs are often disadvantaged from a network perspective, underlining the need to foster a more inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystem, including mentoring. MindFrame Connect, a not-for-profit created in partnership by Dalhousie University, Toronto Metropolitan University, I-INC, and Globalive, aims to fill this gap. 

This project set out to examine gaps in the ecosystem and then develop programming, training and research that not only fills these gaps, but also enhances the performance of Canada’s entrepreneurial ecosystem. Through the engagement of more than 150 mentors, mentees and entrepreneurs in Canada, the project developed a core set of best practices for an effective mentorship relationship, as well as for maintaining one’s well-being as an entrepreneur. 

Specifically, goals of this project were as follows:

  • Develop and evaluate synchronous and asynchronous training modules on a nationally accessible platform to increase access to and the quality of mentorship and founder training resources
  • Foster better and more inclusive mentorship and menteeship to support entrepreneurs/ and small and medium-sized enterprises with curated content and a focus on equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI)
  • Build in evaluation and continual improvement through surveys and interviews to assess mentor and mentee satisfaction and feedback.

Using these best practices, asynchronous and synchronous training was developed and delivered to more than 6,000 mentors, mentees and entrepreneurs whose real-time feedback—taken via surveys—tested the program’s hypotheses and provided a framework for the program’s continual improvement. The data provided via post-session evaluation informed the development and iteration of the learning modules and skills and competencies taught, and of the corresponding materials provided. 

The program evaluation approach included pre and post surveys, as well as focus groups.

There were 186 workshops offered. The workshops were attended by 6,112 participants, whose levels of satisfaction were high. The participants indicated they would apply the learnings from the workshops to their work.

The program helped build connections across the ecosystem and introduced more international approaches to the process of mentorship. Further research is needed to formalize and test the competencies, and to explore the impact on knowledge, attitudes and behaviour in greater detail. Finally, there is an opportunity to explore further the application of the program to entrepreneurs from equity-deserving groups and to apply a gender and diversity lens to the design of the curriculum, pedagogy and wraparound supports.

Published:

June 2024

Cover of the report with a Black woman standing and speaking to a group of people in a meeting.