NEGROS Occidental has pioneered the provincial level implementation of "Mentor Me on Wheels" program in the country that benefited at least 80 existing and aspiring entrepreneurs in the province.
Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in Negros Occidental Provincial Director Lea Gonzales, who spoke at the "Mentor Me on Wheels" activity at Robinsons Place Bacolod Friday, July 12, said the program was implemented among regional centers starting last year.
It was actually rolled out by the DTI and Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship (PCE) in the national level in 2017.
Gonzales said they were able to bring the "Mentor Me on Wheels" program in the province through the assistance of Mary Ann Colmenares, chairman of the Provincial Small and Medium Enterprise Development (Smed) Council.
"We really don't need to have a huge budget for this as the mentors are willing to provide their services for free," she said, adding the activity coincides with the 11th Negros Business Week celebration.
Through the program, a one-on-one mentorship session was provided by nine mentors from Negros Occidental.
The one-time mentoring session enabled aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to ask the mentors about their respective concerns.
Each of the mentors, some are accredited national mentors already, has expertise on specific concerns like on entrepreneurial mind setting, food labeling, finance and marketing, among others.
Gonzales said bulk of the concerns are related to marketing, most entrepreneurs would really look at the market.
"Though they already have the product, entrepreneurs would like to explore more markets thus, they seek assistance on how to access it," she said.
Gonzales added "they have to match their products and make it ready for the market."
The "Mentor Me on Wheels" is different from the "Kapatid Mentor Me" program as the latter has 10-module sessions.
Though it's only a one-time mentoring session, DTI-Negros Occidental will followup and continue to evaluate the participants if they need trainings and other assistance.
Gonzales said they agency is banking on mentorship which was determined as an effective tool to develop entrepreneurs.
"Since it is a one-on-one interaction, entrepreneurs are given outright information and assistance that they need," she added.
For his part, PCE Go Negosyo Program Development Officer Paul Anthony De Guzman, who was also present at the activity, said mentoring has been helping entrepreneurs in the country mainly through sharing of experiences and tips.
De Guzman said the "Mentor Me on Wheels" in Negros Occidental is the 22nd run of the program in the country simultaneous with a regional leg in Tacloban City.
"Mentorship is a tool for aspiring and existing entrepreneurs to undestand more the society and community because the mentors have been there for a long time," he said, adding they are in the same wavelengths as to how to attack things like challenges.
Also present at the activity were Colmenares, Provincial Administrator Lucille Gelvolea representing Governor Eugenio Jose Lacson, and Metro Bacolod Chamber and Commerce and Industry president Roberto Montelibano and chief executive officer Frank Carbon.