Business Mentorship Network (BMN)
- Business Mentorship Network Overview
- Program Goals
- Apply to be a Mentee
- Apply to be a Mentor
- What the BMN Provides
- Program Commitments
- Eligibility Criteria
- Application Process
- Contact Information
*Application intake for BC mentees is now CLOSED.
Limited spots available for AB, MB and SK mentees – APPLY NOW!*
“The BMN program has been an incredible tool to help me make my business successful. My mentor was able to provide clarity in my decision making and share many lessons he learned through experience.”
Christine Kempter, Dixon Creek Farm, Barriere, BC
BUSINESS MENTORSHIP NETWORK OVERVIEW
Whether you need business basics or strategic planning for long-term growth, Young Agrarians knows that gaining business development skills is one of the biggest challenges facing new farmers. Our aim is to provide new farmers, next generation farmers, or farmers adding a new enterprise to an existing farm business with an opportunity to build their business knowledge and use it to grow their farm operations to achieve long-term viability.
Mentees will receive approximately 30 hours of mentorship primarily in the late winter/spring planning season, check-ins through the summer season and reflection wrap up process in the fall. Mentors will help you to analyze your operations and chart a course to move forward towards financial sustainability. Mentorships will be by phone, email, and where possible site visits.
To support you to grow a sustainable farm business! Through one-on-one mentorship and peer networks, we aim to nurture educational spaces that allow new farmers to work out how to overcome obstacles and achieve business goals. Ultimately, we want to see you produce an increase in crop yields, revenues and, where possible, area of land in production.
APPLY TO BE A MENTEE
Are you a young (or young at heart) farmer in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba? Are you involved in primary production such as raising livestock, vegetables, fruits, flowers, bees, grain etc. and looking for guidance to grow your business?
The Young Agrarians Business Mentorship Network (BMN) matches up new farmers (1 to 5 years in business) with seasoned farmers to cultivate the skills to run ecologically sustainable and financially viable businesses. The program has been operating in British Columbia since 2013 and expanded to the Prairie Provinces in 2023.
To date, the BMN has paired up 171 farmers on 118 farms with over 70 mentors creating lasting relationships of support and mutual learning. In the past year alone, after a season of mentorship, we have seen mentees generate a 147% increase in revenues, a 98% increase in volume of food grown, and a 12% increase of land in production.
Application intake for BC mentees is now CLOSED.
APPLY TO BE A MENTOR
Are you a seasoned farmer who wants to share your knowledge and passion with new and young farmers? Your participation as a BMN Mentor can make a world of difference to a budding new farmer. Whether your background is in livestock, vegetable, fruit, grain, mushrooms, flowers, or bee production, your guidance and experience can support a mentee’s educational journey into farming and put them on the fast track for success.
The BMN provides new mentors with training in the coach approach to mentorship, and creates opportunities for mentors to meet and learn from each other through the process of mentorship. This position is a paid position at $50/hour and requires a commitment of 30- 35 hours over the course of the year.
WHAT THE BMN PROVIDES
- 30 hours of one-on-one mentorship with an experienced farmer.
- A mentorship framework, business resources, and support from the BMN program coordinator to facilitate your mentorship process.
- A financial literacy webinar series with content and Q&A sessions focused on business and financial development.
- A private Facebook group and monthly Kitchen Table Meet-Up Sessions during the summer to share questions, challenges and victories with other BMN Mentees.
- Access to the Young Agrarians network to help you get to know other farmers in your community.
“The knowledge I have gained in the past two months is immense and overwhelming. However, it has been easy to digest because of the attendees openness, the generosity of time from the mentors, and the well-planned delivery from the Young Agrarians team.”
– Michael Moar, Grow Moar Inc. Fort McMurray, AB
Want to hear more about prior cohorts’ experience in the program? Head to the BMN BLOG
- Participate in 30 hours of mentorship over the course of the year, scheduled to meet your needs.
- Participate in the orientation sessions, webinar series, and a closing session.
- Submit previous year and current year financial metrics, land in production, and volume of food produced.
- Complete two blog posts, one in the spring and one in the fall.
- Add your farm and 1-3 of your favourite resources to the Young Agrarians U-Map: maps.youngagrarians.org
- Complete a program evaluation.
- Pay a $100 program fee.
“I am a first-generation farmer in which I am learning everything from scratch and find it hard to establish myself with the lack of resources or knowledge to build a proper farm business. I believe this mentorship program can give me the tools and capabilities to not only farm efficiently, but also to build a thriving and successful farm business.”
– Kishon Warmington, Back to Roots Farm Ltd., St. Clements, MB
Applicants must reside in Western Canada: British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba.
Priority will be given, but not limited to, new farmers ages 18 to 34, having been in operation for one to five years.
Applications are peer-reviewed. There are a limited number of placements and acceptance into the program is determined by the number of mentors available with the appropriate skills and know-how relevant to your farm operation.
Complete the online application form (available October 1st, 2023).
The server sometimes refreshes unexpectedly, so please be sure to save your answers in a working file outside of the application form so you don’t lose your writing.
Applicants will be contacted for a phone interview with a program coordinator to get more information about your farm, mentorship goals, and evaluate program readiness.
Eligible candidates will have their application information sent to potential mentors. If we can make a match to an appropriate mentor, applicants will receive an email notifying them that they have been matched.
Applicants who have been accepted and matched with a mentor will be contacted about next steps. Applicants who have not been accepted into the BMN will be directed to business resources and other learning opportunities.
Participants who are accepted into the program are required to pay a $100 program fee and complete a program liability waiver.
Successful applicants will coordinate with their mentor to schedule a 3-way call with their provincial BMN coordinator to review the mentorship contract and complete program orientation.
Mentees will coordinate with their mentor to schedule a weekly one-on-one meeting over the late winter and into the early spring. Mentees will attend a Mentee Orientation Session to meet the other mentees in the cohort and will also be sent information about the webinar series and the dates for the Q&A sessions. As summer approaches the mentorship schedule lightens in recognition that farmers are busy! Your mentor is still available for check ins and questions and a monthly Kitchen Table meet up with your cohort members also provides support and connection. The fall is a time for reflection on the year, lessons learned and plans for next season!
Both mentees and mentors submit an application in which they outline details of their farm business, production type, previous business experience, and mentorship goals. We use this information to make matches prioritizing alignment of mentorship goals, production type and geographic proximity. The Business Mentorship Network (BMN) Coordinators facilitate the matchmaking and introduction processes.
If you have a mentor in mind already, you may indicate this on your application and we will follow up with that mentor on your behalf. We cannot guarantee that a mentorship match will be made with this mentor, but your suggestion will be taken into consideration.
Applications for a new cohort open October 1st with a deadline for submission early November. The matches are made over the course of November and December. The mentorship meetings will begin as soon as matches are confirmed, either in December or January of the following year. A majority of the mentorship hours are spent together over the late winter and into early spring with meetings once a week.
Following the farmer calendar, the meeting schedule is negotiated between mentor and mentee to best fit their production timelines and availability. In the busy summer months, contact often shifts to periodic check-ins and focused problem solving so both mentor and mentee may focus on the operation of their farm businesses. In the fall, mentors will support mentees to reflect on their season and integrate lessons learned. The formal mentorship is complete by November, with mentee follow-up components wrapped by the end of December.
The webinar series will run once a week mid January to the end of February. Mentees will be supported to submit a blog in March and again in September / October. Kitchen Table Conversations will begin in April and run through to September. Final program evaluations will be due by mid December. Down the road Young Agrarians will be in touch with a survey tool, to see how you are doing over the long-term.
As there is generally more interest in the program than we can support, we are unfortunately not able to accept every applicant into the program. If your application is unsuccessful, you will be notified by a BMN Coordinator. Please don’t be discouraged. Sometimes the difference between a successful application and an unsuccessful one is an additional season of experience, so we encourage you to reapply next year!
Every applicant is invited to watch the webinars and attend the Q&A sessions, and our BMN coordinators are more than happy to provide you with more resources. Our coordinators can also connect you with additional YA E-learning programs such as the Business Bootcamp for New Farmers where you can learn some of the business basics that you’ll need to get the most out of the mentorship program.
The mentors who participate in the BMN are encouraged to use the coach approach to mentorship. This means they will be driven by curiosity about your ideas, experience and goals, and support you to create a plan that works for you. They will share their own experience and expertise and work with you to find the right answers for your situation. This approach is designed to empower you to build your skills to effectively manage your unique business over the long-term.
The E-Learning Webinars cover a wide range of topics including financial management, tax filing, marketing, and more. The webinars are pre-recorded, which means that you can watch them as many times as you like. We offer follow-up Q&A sessions on each topic where you can ask industry experts questions specific to your farm operation.
The program costs $100 to participate. If cost is a barrier, please let us know.
The program includes 30 hours of one-on-one mentorship, however the time commitment from each mentee will be closer to 60 – 70 hours over the course of the year, including attending orientation, watching the pre-recorded webinars, attending the Q&A sessions, and following up on insights with mentors.
The BMN Program is conducted over the timespan of a year, however your informal relationship with your mentor may last longer than that. You will also be introduced to a community of farmers who you may continue to have conversations with throughout your farming career. The formal mentorship program begins in December / January and concludes the following December.
We ask that mentees provide us with information about their total area of land in production, volume of food produced, and gross revenue from the current year, as well as the year spent in the mentorship program. This allows us to track the impact of the mentorship program, and to celebrate the mentees’ growth. If you don’t have systems in place yet to track this, we will help you develop those.
The BMN Program puts the mentee in the driver’s seat: mentees will coordinate their meetings with their mentors and their mentorship conversations will center around goals they set for themselves. To get the most out of the program, we encourage mentees to put the effort into following up on resources provided by their mentor, by participating fully in the webinar Q&A sessions, and committing to take actions to work toward their goals. Since the formal mentorship program lasts a year, we encourage mentees to take full advantage of their conversations with mentors and make their time together meaningful.
The Kitchen Table Sessions are open-format zoom meet-ups where mentees can talk about anything they’d like to discuss. Ask for advice from other mentees, share solutions, ask questions, or find out how others approached a problem; this is free time for mentees to use for support, help, and conversation.
Melanie Buffel, BMN Manager and BMN British Columbia Coordinator
Lydia Carpenter, BMN Manitoba and Saskatchewan Coordinator
Tori Ames, BMN Alberta Coordinator
Funding for the Young Agrarians B.C. Business Mentorship Network 2023/2024 is provided by Vancity, Endswell Foundation and Columbia Basin Trust. The Prairies Business Mentorship Network 2023/2024 is funded in part by the Government of Alberta.
Young Agrarians thanks our generous funders!