The Denver Office of Economic Development (OED) today launched a new mentorship program that will match successful, seasoned businesses with smaller, minority- and women-owned firms to provide coaching on ways to compete more successfully for contracts in construction and related professional services. The M/WBE Mentorship Program is specially designed to build capacity among Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE), thus increasing their ability to access government and private construction opportunities.
“Every successful business – man, woman or minority-owned – has been helped along the way to overcome industry challenges,” said Denver Mayor Michael B. Hancock. “This new volunteer-driven program gives today’s business leaders a chance to give back and create a more stable, diverse economy here in Denver. The city heard our businesses loud and clear when they said they needed this program to better succeed, and I’m proud that we have a community ready to help nurture Denver’s next generation of successful minority- and women-owned companies.”
Starting with a pilot phase, the M/WBE Mentorship Program will begin with an initial set of matches that are intended to last three years, with deliberate oversight by an OED steering committee and a spirit of continuous improvement along the way.
“In this first phase, everyone’s involvement will help shape the program and ensure its success by supplying critical, first-hand program assessment and process evaluation,” said Chris Martinez, director of Denver’s Small Business Opportunity office within the OED. “We want to get this right, then grow it exponentially.”
Protégés will receive coaching on public contract applications and contract performance, but also a wide array of other business-management topics, from strategic planning to financial management and marketing.
“Through each mentor-protégé match, our goal is to facilitate relationship building and to foster mutual commercial interest that will result in increased capacity and growth of minority- and women-owned firms,” said OED Executive Director Paul Washington.
Experienced businesses are being sought to volunteer as mentors for a field of newly certified M/WBE firms, providing guidance on how to better prepare for, bid on, win, and successfully deliver government contracts. Inquiries are welcomed at CEIquestions@denvergov.org.
Long-range success will be measured by the growing proportion of public contracts performed by minority- and women-owned firms, although another exciting outcome will be when today’s protégés return to the program in future years as mentors themselves, Martinez said.
M/WBE certifications are offered through the OED Division of Small Business Opportunity. The program helps connect businesses with construction and professional service contracts throughout the city and at DIA. For more information on the OED’s business certification programs, visit www.denvergov.org/dsbo.