Chapter 7: Mentoring for Entrepreneurs as an Education Intervention
Asko Miettinen Introduction The roots of the mentoring programmes for entrepreneurs in Finland date back to 1993, when the country was recovering from the deep economic recession of the early 1990s. A year earlier the Prime Minister’s Office published a report by a working group consisting of eminent industrialists for industrial investment, development and operational environment: ‘Finland needs a programme for reindustrialization’. Based on this report, the mentor programme was launched to council entrepreneurial enterprises having growth potential (Järvinen, 1998). This programme started simultaneously in two regions: in the Greater Helsinki area, where the focus was on a selected group of small high-technology entrepreneurs into rapid global growth (www.innopoli.fi/english/mentor.htm) and in the Pirkanmaa region (about 100 miles north-west of Helsinki), where the selection criteria were less exclusive. This chapter explores the latter mentoring programme. There is also a third effort organized by the Association of Finnish Local and Regional Authorities. This mentor programme started in 1996 and is based on tripartite principle (municipality, enterprise and mentor) and aims to promote the economic life of local communities. The mentor (often a senior or retired executive having roots or a summer cottage in the municipality) functions typically as a sparring partner, coach or adviser. The mentors form a network making it possible to benefit from the many-sided experience represented by the mentors. The focus is on the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector. Improving regional and industry co-operation is one of the goals of this programme. It operates free of charge...
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