This blog post was written by Deniz Temelli, Business Analyst at TechAlliance.
Mental health and addiction is a high-profile challenge that not only impacts the lives of millions but also has a large financial impact on the health care system. Over the years we’ve seen many great initiatives which spread awareness like the Bell Let’s Talk Day, as well as promote treatment like countless apps I’ve come across. One program that stands out to me is the Rise program which aims to help those living with mental health and addiction challenges by empowering them through entrepreneurship.
The Rise program, formed in 2009 through a partnership between the Rotman School of Management in Toronto and the Centre for Addictions and Mental Health (CAMH), has recently launched in London and offers two main programs for entrepreneurs.
First is the Individual Lending Program which offers low interest financing of up to $10,000 to entrepreneurs who have difficulty accessing traditional financing. Second is the Youth Small Business Program which is a free 3 month training course for entrepreneurs aged 16-29 with the opportunity for a $500 grant upon completion. Both programs work closely with entrepreneurs and offer support and mentoring throughout the process.
In my opinion one of the best aspects of this program is that the participants are not defined by their mental health or addiction challenges; instead they are first and foremost defined as entrepreneurs.
In the initial application process there is just one tick box where an individual indicates that they self-identify as living with a mental health or addiction challenge. There are no doctor’s notes or consultations with care givers.
Once accepted into the program, the main focus is the business and going through the same rigorous business planning expected of any entrepreneur. In addition to this, through the partnership with CAMH, there are supports and resources relevant to dealing with their mental health or addiction challenges available to participants at any time if they need it.
You may be wondering how you might be able to help out with this great program. Since Rise is new to London, they are still in the process of building out their mentor network. Rise is seeking volunteers with business experience in various sectors and functional roles who would be willing to work with participants of these programs.
Coaches for the youth participating in the Small Business Program only need to dedicate two hours a month from September to November while the commitment for the loans program varies depending on the specific role.
If you are interested in learning more about Rise, applying to the any of their programs or becoming a mentor, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.