New program aimed at helping entrepreneurs succeed

Program offers mentorship, business advice and networking opportunities

Community Futures Central Alberta, in partnership with the Central Alberta Regional Innovation Network (CARIN), is behind the SMARTstart initiative for budding entrepreneurs.

An intiative offering business training and mentors for entrepreneurs has been launched in central Alberta.

Community Futures Central Alberta, in partnership with the Central Alberta Regional Innovation Network (CARIN), is behind the SMARTstart initiative.

The program provides real-world business skills, access to tailor-made advice, and a support network to increase the chance of new businesses surviving those first crucial years.

Over the past seven years, SMARTstart has helped hundreds of entrepreneurs in communities throughout Alberta launch or expand their business ideas. Only 35 per cent of small businesses make it past the three- to five-year mark.

But with proper training and resources, 80 to 90 per cent of those businesses can succeed beyond five years, say those behind the initiative.

“We are excited to participate in the success of the SMARTstart program with our upcoming launch in Red Deer and central Alberta, which will provide opportunities for learning, networking, and mentorship to small business owners in our region,” said Community Futures Central Alberta general manager Kelly Kierluk.

”This will in turn contribute to economic development and strengthening our local economy.”

The program has a proven history of success in communities and City of Red Deer is happy to be a title sponsor, said John Sennema, city land and economic development manager.

“Red Deer is rich with innovation and entrepreneurs. We welcome the tools that will allow these business leaders to succeed in adding diversity and fresh ideas into the Alberta economic landscape.”

Anyone with a business idea, a recent launch or who has been in business for less than three years may be eligible for the program. Over the course of eight months, entrepreneurs will complete a combination of online training and in-person workshops led by local experts.

Each participant will leave the program with a complete business plan, feasibility study or strategic plan they have created along with their mentor to set their business up for success.

The total cost of SMARTstart for the introductory launch is $199. Participants can expect to spend 10 to 15 hours per month on the program.



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