SCORE is a Tampa nonprofit organization that is a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.
“Our chapter has about 50 volunteers/mentors,” said Kevin Dorsey, leader of the Tampa/Hillsborough County SCORE Chapter. “Nationwide, SCORE has more than 10,000 volunteers. We provide free small business mentoring for startups and existing small businesses. We can tap volunteers across the U.S. who may have specific backgrounds and knowledge to best serve our clients locally. Mr. DuPont of the DuPont Corporation started the SCORE model in 1953.”
By 1964, SCORE had grown too large to be managed, so oversight of SCORE was turned over to the U.S. Small Business Administration in 1964.
“The Tampa/Hillsborough Chapter has been active since 1968,” Dorsey said. “Of our 50-ish volunteers, 40 percent of our mentors are retired, and 60 percent are still running businesses or working corporate executive positions.”
Last year, SCORE had over 1000 requests for mentors in Tampa/Hillsborough County.
“Approximately 65 percent of our clients are women, 28 percent African American, 10 percent Hispanic and 9 percent veterans,” Dorsey said. “Around 40 percent of our clients have not started a business yet and need help walking through the process in all areas.”
The Tampa Chapter presents workshops, seminars and webinars for the public throughout the year.
“Every month, we have two three-hour workshops: Going Into Business and How To Create a Great Business Plan,” Dorsey said. “We also do the judging for the Valrico/FishHawk Chamber of Commerce Businesses of the Year winners.”
SCORE is currently looking for mentors.
“We need mentors with all different backgrounds,” Dorsey said. “Current or retired small business owners are perfect. A great need we have currently is for digital and social media marketing people, government regulations and compliance, bank SBA loan officers, marketing experts, sales, CPAs and many others. The time commitment for training is about 15 hours over 30 days, and the ongoing mentoring requirement is around three to five hours per week minimum.”
Currently, SCORE has 1,036 requests for mentoring and only 50 volunteers.
“We need to increase our number of mentors and volunteers to around 100 plus in the coming year,” Dorsey said. “We also need sponsors to gather financial support. We get around 35 percent of our basic annual budget from the U.S. Small Business Administration. We must fundraise for the remainder of our needed funds, which takes our volunteers’ attention away from mentoring our clients.”
If you would like to learn more about SCORE or become a mentor or volunteer with the program, you can visit its website at www.score.org.