Understanding entrepreneurs is on the Senate agenda, and Kansas City’s own Helzberg Entrepreneurial Mentoring Program (HEMP) is helping to lead the learning—proving, once again, that KCSourceLink resource partners aren’t just part of the dialogue, they lead it.
On April 18, Christina Friederichs, managing director of HEMP, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship as part of the panel: “Perspectives from the Entrepreneurial Ecosystem: Creating Jobs and Going Businesses through Entrepreneurship.”
“Elected officials are getting the message that entrepreneurship is the key source of U.S. job creation,” Friederichs says. “Our message was simple: entrepreneurship makes a difference in our economy, and mentoring makes a difference for entrepreneurs.”
HEMP is growing as a national resource and model for entrepreneurship. As a result of the roundtable, HEMP will be leading more dialogues on best practices for mentoring.
“We are receiving calls from key national players in business and entrepreneurship who want to learn from us. The requests and comments we get reinforce what we have known for some time: HEMP is doing important work, and Kansas City is a great place to be an entrepreneur,” says Friederichs.
HEMP focuses on helping companies between startup and mature phases, noting that it is in this stage that entrepreneurs most need resources for scalable growth.
“Entrepreneurs who get facilitated, organized mentoring show steady, healthy growth,” says HEMP president, Dan McDougal. “Over an 8-year period studied,HEMP mentees showed 46 percent revenue growth and 30 percent increases in employee count,” he says.
“HEMP is one of the support systems that has given Kansas City a head start in the race to become the most entrepreneurial city in America,” says Mayor Sly James.
The 17-year-old program was founded by Barnett Helzberg, Jr., former owner and president of Helzberg Diamonds and inspired by Helzberg’s 23-year mentoring relationship with Ewing Kauffman.
“We are thrilled to share what we’ve learned over 17 years,” says Helzberg. “Entrepreneurs need training and a safe environment to put their worst foot forward. A good mentor is part confidante, part teacher, part cattle prod. They can cover so much more ground with a facilitated, organized program.”
- HEMP is a 501(C)3 based in Kansas City, Missouri, serving entrepreneurs throughout the Kansas City region. For more about HEMP, visit their website at helzbergmentoring.org/HEMP