Mentors help new business grow

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SAINT JOHN – NBCC’s community mentorship program OASIS recently reached a significant milestone, matching its 100th pair of experienced professionals and emerging entrepreneurs.

Among those 100 matches is the relationship between Emily McGill, co-owner of McGill’s Restaurant and a department head at the Saint John campus of NBCC, and Shannon Lifance, whose Lifance Skin Care could be the next big thing in the growing clean chemistry cosmetics industry.

OASIS connects small businesses facing unique challenges (mentees) with experienced entrepreneurs (mentors) to provide them with the support, resources and guidance necessary to explore their entrepreneurial goals through tactical mentorship activities. The significant social and economic impact of OASIS in helping small business grow is consistent with NBCC’s goal of transforming lives and communities.

For Lifance, who moved her budding business to New Brunswick from Alberta, participation in OASIS has provided a vital support system.

“I’m blown away by the level of support that you can access through OASIS,” said Lifance. “There are so many things that I don’t know as a business owner. This helps support me in so many ways.”

With a wealth of small business experience and a vast network of connections, McGill is a natural mentor. She’s been involved in OASIS since its inception in Miramichi in 2015 and is excited to share her insight.

“I get to be amazed by these incredible people,” said McGill, an alumna of NBCC. “It’s a very rewarding experience. I often say I don’t know who gets the most out of it, me or them.”

NBCC launched the OASIS program in 2014 as a way to connect entrepreneurial recent graduates with more experienced alumni. OASIS was piloted in Miramichi, with eight mentor/mentee matches. The overwhelming success of the pilot led to NBCC offering the program in other campus communities, including Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton, and opening it up to all business owners, rather than just alumni.

Lifance’s connection with McGill is her second match through OASIS. The guidance and support of her first mentor gave her the confidence to dream bigger than she ever imagined she could. With that confidence, she’s now working with McGill to take her business to the next level.

“OASIS has taken me in directions I don’t think I’d be able to go in otherwise,” she said. “It’s given me a different level of confidence and connected me with people I didn’t know.”

When you’re the CEO and the workforce all rolled into one, she added, it’s difficult to master all of the skills required to operate a business.

“The reality of being a small business operator is that you’re not going to be good at everything,” she said. “You can’t be everybody. So to get help in all these different areas, I feel so privileged to be a part of this. I’m so lucky it’s available.”

For further information about OASIS, please visit www.nbcc.ca/oasis.

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