IWF extends a special thank you to our 2023 Grant Partner, NewBo City Market, and Executive Director Julie Parisi for writing this guest blog. NewBo City Market is not only shining a light on the importance of mentorship and support, but their team is taking direct action to help improve the lives of Iowa’s women and girls.
Mentorship is at the heart of how we support entrepreneurs at NewBo City Market. Similarly to how it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a network of mentors to support a business in its startup phase. The challenges of bringing a concept to life are vast and, oftentimes, unknown. But when you have a team behind you helping you navigate uncharted waters, it becomes much easier to manifest your goals.
As someone who has been an entrepreneur, I’ve come to value the perspective and wisdom mentors can bring to the equation. Though I’ve had many of my own experiences along the way, I still look to my mentors for guidance—and some days, that just looks like reassurance.
At NewBo City Market, we begin our mentorship journey with new entrepreneurs before they even become a shopkeeper. Mentoring for us means building trust, helping develop the individual, and offering guidance along the way. We help entrepreneurs write business plans and work through financial projections. We can also help them consider how business operations may have implications on family life or vice versa.
Over 60 percent of the entrepreneurs in our business incubator are women. We find they are most in need of mentorship as they are frequently transitioning from a background that may not have set them up well for a CEO position, which is what they will experience while running their own business.
Mentorship goes a long way, but additional support can be beneficial. Our grant from the Iowa Women’s Foundation will couple our current mentorship program with a new program we’ve developed called “Spark Grants.” Women in our business incubator can receive funds to make improvements in their business when they are in need of extra capital for a growth phase.
They are not alone. It is an honor for my team and me to serve as their mentors and to watch their fledgling businesses grow and succeed.