Funding for the BizMentors International Project was secured from the Northern Periphery and Arctic Programme (NPA) of the European Union in October 2018 for a three year programme. The BizMentors International Project aims to innovate the existing business mentoring model using an online interactive platform and shared learning to scale and expand BizMentors International, making expertise accessible to all enterprises and entrepreneurs thereby developing BizMentors International into a transnational mentoring programme. It will be trialled in the NPA area for the duration of this program.
The project partnership is comprised of Lead Partner – Western Development Commission (WDC) (Ireland) and project partners Fermanagh and Omagh District Council (Northern Ireland), Icelandic Arctic Cooperation Network (IACN) and the Northeast Iceland Development Agency (Iceland), Savonia University of Applied Sciences (Finland) and SCCUL Enterprises CLG (Ireland).
To test the new model, the partnership will focus on the Processing and Refinement of Natural Resources and in particular the Agri-Food sector. Having identified 587 existing Agri-Food businesses in the partner regions during the preparatory phase, the project will support end users to take advantage of the unique natural capital, innovation capacity and markets that remains untapped in the region.
To facilitate economic growth, through the delivery of best practice mentoring and technology.
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Supporting rural business to survive, thrive and grow through barrier-free mentoring.
- To expand the BizMentors programme throughout the partner regions so that barriers to specific expertise and markets are removed for those with ambition, ideas and skills.
- Using technology, develop an online platform to scale the mentoring service in a cost efficient and inclusive manner over distance and borders.
- Develop a Best Practice Handbook (BPH) to share lessons learned and create a product that is robust and transferable throughout all communities in the NPA region and beyond.
- Developing & piloting a mentoring model which will suit each region participating in the project, and ensure its transferability to other business sectors, and other countries (not just in the NPA region), and focusing on a specific business sector (processing/refinement of natural resources) in the partner countries.
- An interactive, accessible, inclusive platform for all businesses will be developed, which will compliment and supplement existing mentoring support offerings.
- To support this, a transnational best practice business model handbook will be developed that can be used to address challenges in different countries.