Meet Mentor For Hope, the startup mentorship programme that will donate 50K meals for those in need

More than 140 leading names in the regional startup ecosystem –from venture capital firms, accelerators or incubators, to other organisations– announced the launch of Mentor For Hope, a programme aiming to raise the equivalent of 50,000 meals for those in need while supporting startups in the time of crisis at the same time.

Vertex Ventures, Sequoia India, Big Idea Ventures, Saison Capital, Qualgro, e27, Golden Gate Ventures, Quest Ventures, Give.Asia, Insignia Ventures Partners, Openspace Ventures, Antler, BLOCK71 by NUS Enterprise, SGInnovate, StartupX, SheVC (a SoGal Foundation initiative), SoGal Ventures, NTUitive, STRIVE, Hustle Fund, Asia Institute for Mentoring, Wantedly and VentureCap Insights are among those supporting the initiative so far.

The programme includes a month-long fundraising campaign where mentors pledge nearly 1,400 hours to provide mentorship to founders affected by the COVID-19 crisis and raise funds for charity at the same time.

All donations raised during the campaign, from May 18 to 16 June, will be dedicated to two beneficiaries: Beyond Social Services and Willing Hearts Soup Kitchen.

Aspiring entrepreneurs, founders, and members of the public are encouraged to donate. Public donations will enable founders who face financial challenges to benefit from investors’ mentoring sessions or experts’ coaching classes during the campaign.

The programme was launched with the background of the COVID-19 pandemic, which had impacted the startup ecosystem. According to VentureBeat, 41 per cent of startups globally are struggling with a cash runway of three months or less.

In Singapore alone, there are at least 20,000 jobs attributed to 3,800 startups, according to the Singapore Department of Statistics’ data as of December 2018.

“What we have created in a short time is a mini accelerator programme for founders across all stages to receive one-on-one mentoring with industry leaders, group mentoring with senior investors and masterclasses organised by experts, with a purpose to give back as well,” says Elise Tan Yee Ling, who organises the programme.

Mentor for Hope evolved from the “Gratitude-COVID mentoring initiative” started by Tan in Singapore when her role at a venture firm was made redundant a month ago. Feeling inspired to keep on helping the startup ecosystem, she was later joined by Sharon Yeo Mei Ching and Gwen Sim, both final-year students at National University of Singapore (NUS).

In addition to them, the main organisers of the programme also include Janet Neo, Aparna Saxena, Jeng Yang Chia, Minh Vu Hong, Clinton Swan and Dr Dalal AlGhawas, all of whom met through the Gratitude-COVID mentoring initiative.

Over 120 introductions have been made between founders and mentors since April 1.

Application details

To participate in the programme, interested founders and aspiring entrepreneurs can sign up via the FutureLab e-mentorship platform and make a request for the mentors they wish to meet. They will then receive instructions on how to make or raise at least SG$50 (US$35) donation on give.asia.

Every participant will receive a Mentor For Hope care package, worth S$500 (US$350) in total, that comprises of:

– One hour mentoring session by a suitable mentor
– Free virtual coaching group classes led by professional experts
– Free two-month access to VentureCap Insights, an online venture investment database

Founders facing financial difficulties may also apply to reduce or waive the donation recommendation.

Image Credit: Mentor For Hope

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