Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators
Interactive resources for incubators and accelerators

Mentor Care and Feeding: Ongoing Engagement, Measuring and Monitoring

Good mentors are incredibly generous individuals and offer a great deal of value to your program and its entrepreneurs. You want to do what you can to take care of them, and to make sure that the relationships that they have with the entrepreneurs are effective.


This section looks at how to monitor and measure the entrepreneur-mentor engagements in your program. It addresses the challenge of ‘unassigned’ mentors and offers solutions for finding other types of engagement opportunities to ensure they are still able to give and receive value. It also provides different approaches to appreciating and recognising the mentors in your program.

Monitoring and Measuring Entrepreneur-Mentor Engagements

The sole focus of the mentor is on the social entrepreneur as that is where their energy and passion are focused. Relationship development is dependent upon the quality of the people involved – both the mentor and the entrepreneur. How do you track what is happening during the mentor’s engagement with the entrepreneur? How do you get input and feedback from the mentors?

  • 01.

    Be scrupulous about the entrepreneurs you select

  • 02.

    Think about pairing in terms of skill sets and personality profile


  • 03.

    Put infrastructure around your curriculum


A mentor and entrepreneur not being a good ‘fit’ doesn’t necessarily mean that either party is doing something wrong or needs to change their behaviour.


Sometimes it can be a simple as a personality clash, or an inexplicable sense that they do not understand each other in the way that they would have hoped. This is a perfectly normal and human response and simply means that the entrepreneur would benefit from another mentor.

  • Look at it as a partnership that is working towards a common goal. Use the strengths of the mentors’ experience and the passion and cultural understanding of the entrepreneur’s impact. This leverage will create a better result.


A series of touchpoints are important to make sure the program is moving along at an appropriate speed and that the relationships between the mentors and the entrepreneurs are being built.

These can include:

1. A test period or “fit” check

Looks at how the entrepreneur and the mentor get along. A time for either party to raise initial questions or concerns about the relationship. It is a good opportunity for you to watch the relationship closely and track how it is progressing. Are they keeping regular calls and getting feedback from one another? Do they have clear goals of engagement? Is there chemistry? If reassignment is needed, this is a good time to make that happen.

Practical Tip

You might want to try a 3-way mentor approach for the first few weeks of a new entrepreneur-mentor relationship, where the program manager of you incubator or accelerator sits in on a few of the initial calls.

This will give them an opportunity to observe the relationship first-hand.

2. Enterprise Assessment Tool

Looks at the organisations and where they are in their progression (where are they in the development of their organisation). It is important to establish a baseline and identify gaps in areas of the business. The entrepreneur completes the assessment tool and reviews it with their mentors to get alignment.

3. Mentor-only check-ins

Looks at how the entrepreneur is progressing, from the mentor’s perspective. If there are any issues (e.g. the deliverables are not being completed), it is important to work proactively to improve and solve the problem before it becomes worse. This may include bringing in an expert to help keep things moving or replacing the current mentor with one that is a better fit.

The program manager plays a key role in the communication process as they have the best visibility to see how things are progressing and if some people are falling behind . They act as a middleman between the mentors and the entrepreneurs so that both parties are getting feedback from each other. They can also send a bi-weekly email to the team to check in and remind everyone of their deliverables.

Practical Tip

A diagnostic panel or advisory group can be a great way to help entrepreneurs overcome particular challenges in their organisation that their mentor is unable to address alone.

A number of relevant experts are gathered to provide input and advise the entrepreneur on a specific topic or challenge. The mentor joins this group to support the entrepreneur in the gathering of advice. This is a great way to see their mentorship in action.

This doesn’t have to be an overly formal affair in a boardroom. The advisory group can even discuss the challenges together over dinner.

4. Program Goal Tracking Sheet

Looks at how the entrepreneur is tracking in regards to their goals for the incubator or accelerator program. This is not a detailed report, but more of a high-level overview that gives program managers, mentors and the entrepreneur the ability to report how they are doing. It helps to clearly highlight when an entrepreneur is falling behind in particular areas and is an easy way to make sure that red flags are raised early.

Mentor feedback surveys

Looks at how the program is performing from the perspective of both the entrepreneur and the mentor. Gathering this information can help you to understand what is and isn’t working so that you can continuously improve your program.

Practical Tip

In addition to individual surveys, ask for feedback via an in-person focus group. You may find that people will share different insights in different environments.

Engagement Opportunities for “Unassigned” Mentors

As your mentor pool grows, it is likely that you won’t always have an entrepreneur for every mentor. Mentors also have different needs themselves. Some will take on multiple entrepreneurs, while others aren’t ready to commit to mentoring an entrepreneur for six months. This doesn’t mean that your mentors need to remain idle and many mentors will want to work on special projects that match their appetite and availability. You can often find gaps in your cohorts and programs that these ‘unassigned’ mentors can fill.

Possible activities include:

  • Helping to interview and select entrepreneurs
  • Acting as a guest expert for workshops of webinar topics
  • Helping to develop the content and curriculum for your program
  • Acting as a feedback panellist for pitches and presentations
  • Sitting on a Mentor Board: a core group of experienced mentors who give feedback on how your organisation can improve the programs offered for mentors and for entrepreneurs

Practical Tip

Bring both assigned and unassigned mentors together every six months to provide updates and feedback on how their engagement is impacting the entrepreneurs.

Assigning activities to otherwise unassigned mentors is about more than just supporting your program. Regular engagement with entrepreneurs and your program helps mentors to feel more connected to and excited about your organisation’s mission to help entrepreneurs.

This ongoing connection will help to form stronger ties between your organisation and its mentors, which will help to create an even better experience for them and the entrepreneurs they are mentoring.

Mentor Appreciation and Recognition

Mentors are likely to work harder and show more commitment to their role when they feel appreciated and recognised for their efforts. While you should make all mentors feels appreciated, this is especially important when mentors are volunteering their time to work with entrepreneurs.

Activities to make your mentors feel loved can include:

1. Networking events

  • Held at consistent points throughout the year (e.g. once every quarter)
  • Include meaningful topics for discussion about mentoring and social entrepreneurship
  • Can be held at a local wine bar or restaurant
  • A great tool to get new mentors, keep existing mentors excited and get new ideas
  • Provide an opportunity for mentors working with a virtual cohort to meet the entrepreneurs in person, sometimes for the first time

 2. Years of service awards

  • Awarded to mentors who have given five and 10 years of service
  • Rewards mentors with more than just a plaque or trophy
  • Five year mentors — receive a painting
  • 10 year mentors — receive a mentor’s yearbook on their results as a mentor that presents the impact of mentoring over the 10 year period that they have been involved

Practical Tip

As you develop your programs and track the progress of your entrepreneurs, think about the different ways that this data can be used.

Not only are you helping the entrepreneur to develop program materials and advertise their successes, you are also gathering information that can advertise the success of your incubator or accelerator programs.

In addition, this data can demonstrate the impact that your mentors have had on entrepreneurs over a number of years.


Mentor's Yearbook

  • 1.

    Using the data that your organisation collects on a yearly basis from each organisation that is enrolled in your program, create a Mentor Impact Dashboard, along with stories of appreciation from the entrepreneurs, your own staff, and other mentors.

    The dashboard can include:

    • The number of enterprises mentored and the number still in operation
    • The sum totals of lives impacted and dollars raised by the enterprises
    • The sectors of social impact as defined by the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
    • The places in the world the mentor visited (at least virtually) while mentoring an entrepreneur


    Source: Miller Center for Social Entrepreneurship

The role of mentors can vary from program to program. Some programs will benefit from a traditional one-on-one mentorship role that tries to address any and all challenges that an entrepreneur may face.  Other programs might see mentors more as experts who can give advice based on their professional experience and make connections to others in their field. Other times program may use coaches rather than mentors, and source these individuals from within their own team, rather than from outside.

  • It is important to craft and refine the mentorship role into one that best suits your program and the entrepreneurs that you support.


  • Enterprise Assessment Tool (Example)

    A Miller Center tool for assessing the operations of an enterprise

  • Program Goal Tracking Worksheet (Example)

    A Miller Center tool for tracking an entrepreneurs’ progress through the program


  • Additional Content Contributed By

    Villgro Innovations Foundation is India’s oldest and one of the world’s largest social enterprise incubators. Established in 2001, Villgro supports innovative, impactful and successful for-profit enterprises who are tackling some of the most pressing challenges in the developing world – access to healthcare, education and modernising agricultural practices. So far, Villgro has supported over 150 social enterprises with $4.5 million in investments. These enterprises have created over 40,000 jobs, secured $17 million in follow-on funding, and impacted 19 million lives. Presently, Villgro’s unique incubation model is being replicated in Kenya, Philippines and Vietnam.



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