Like all entrepreneurs, minority and women business owners can benefit from on-the-job training in their field. But finding a mentor who is willing and able to provide that kind of learning can be challenging, especially for MWBEs. That’s one reason why the State of New York established the Mentor-Protege Program, which connects qualified mentors who currently do business with the state with MWBEs seeking guidance and support.
What Is the Mentor Protege Program?
Administered by the NY State Division of Minority and Women-owned Business Development, the Mentor-Protege program is a means for qualified MWBEs to build their capacity to participate as subcontractors in state contracts. The program connects qualified prime contractors who volunteer to be mentors with appropriate MWBEs. The prime contractor is responsible for providing on-the-job training and technical assistance as defined in the agreement between the mentor and protege. All agreements must be approved by the DMWBD, which also monitors the ongoing mentor-protege relationship and progress towards stated goals.
The mentor-protege relationship benefits both parties who participate. Proteges develop important business and techical skills, while mentors can receive preference when responding to RFPs issue by various state agencies. They also receive credit towards meeting state-mandated MWBE participation goals.
What Constitutes Mentoring?
Within the context of the NY State Mentor-Protege program, mentoring involves industry specific technical training rather then assistance with general business and leadership skills. For example, the mentor may provide instruction or assistance in the following areas:
- Industry specific technology and tools
- Tools and equipment used in the mentor’s facilities
- Interpretation of plans and specifications
- Industry specific marketing strategies
- Project management
- Developing an industry specific business plan
- Use of the mentor’s facilities and proprietary products or processes
Prior to submitting an agreement for approval by the DMWBD, the mentor and protege must agree to a mentorship curricula that includes:
- The exact nature of the training to be provided
- Who specifically will be responsible for providing the mentorship training
- How long the mentor-protege relationship will continue (The DMWBD typically expects a term of at least one year.)
The DMWBD offers assistance in preparing an agreement to mentors and proteges. You can also view a sample agreement here.
To participate in the program as a mentor, a business must be a prime contractor that provides services to the State of New York. Proteges must be certified or eligible to be certified as an MWBE. Additionally, the protege must:
- Have at least one employee who provides services to a client(s) other than the mentor
- Do business in a location other than their own home or another residential structure
- Have no prior experience working as a subcontractor on a state contract for the mentor
Firms who are not yet MWBE certified can seek certification and participation in the Mentor-Protege program at the same time.
How to Apply to the Mentor-Protege Program
Whether you are a potential mentor or a subcontractor interested in participating, the first step in applying to the Mentor-Protege program is to submit an inquiry to the DMWBD at firstname.lastname@example.org. Your inquiry should include a summary of your firm and its capabilities. After reviewing your request, a representative of the DMWBD will contact you.
About the Carmoon Group
The Carmoon Group Ltd. is an insurance broker headquartered in Hicksville, New York. With over 20 years experience providing risk management and insurance products to firms across the United States, we are uniquely qualified to help your company grow and thrive. And as a successful minority owned business, we understand how to address the particular challenges MWBEs face. So why not give us a call now to discuss your needs? Or, if you prefer, just reach out online and we will get back to you at a convenient time.