July 30, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - The provincial government will fund a business mentorship pilot program designed to help immigrant entrepreneurs learn about doing business in New Brunswick.
The announcement was made by Business New Brunswick Minister Victor Boudreau, who is also minister responsible for the population growth secretariat, and Lee Winchester, president of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.
"This pilot project will link immigrant entrepreneurs with New Brunswickers who have experience doing business in our province," said Boudreau. "Ultimately our goal is to help immigrants be successful with their investments in our province, and in doing so, bring our province closer to self-sufficiency."
The Population Growth Secretariat will provide $75,000 in funding for the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce to implement the project. The chamber of commerce will be an important partner in the initiative by managing the program and matching business mentors with eligible immigrant entrepreneurs. The funding will be used to hire a part-time project co-ordinator, develop the program, perform outreach activities, and help with translation costs.
"We're pleased to be offering this important new program in partnership with the Population Growth Secretariat," said Anthony Knight, chief executive officer of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce. "We feel strongly that newcomers have much to contribute to Fredericton's economic growth, and we look forward to connecting our network of experienced entrepreneurs with business immigrants to foster this growth."
Boudreau said that the program could become a model for similar programs in other regions of the province.
"This program is the first of its kind in New Brunswick," he said. "Other chambers of commerce have already indicated a desire to partner going forward."
Two groups will go through the program in its first year, beginning in August 2009. Each group will consist of 12 immigrant/mentor pairs.
Efforts will be made to find mentors and immigrant entrepreneurs who have similar businesses in order to maximize the benefits for both parties.
"The program offers benefits for the mentor as well as the mentored," said Boudreau. "By mentoring immigrant entrepreneurs, participants could learn about foreign markets and potential business opportunities."
A steering committee consisting of representatives from the Population Growth Secretariat, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce, Enterprise Fredericton, the Multicultural Association of Fredericton, and local business representatives will oversee and evaluate the program.
MEDIA CONTACT: Brendan Langille, communications, Population Growth Secretariat, 506-471-3264.