Mississauga Life — Early Spring 2015
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Reach Out And Touch
Jordan Villanueva

The Incubate Institute lends a hand to community start-ups.

Imagine if everyone in Mississauga volunteered just one hour out of their day to assist others in being successful.

This is the vision of Incubate Institute, an organization recently formed to provide mentorship to fledgling community groups.

At the forefront of this endeavour is Rohit Mehta, environmentalist and chairman of Incubate Institute. Mehta is a notable figure in environmental advocacy, who has received recognition and several awards for his efforts, including the Ontario Medal for Young Volunteers and the 2006 Mississauga Volunteer of the Year Award, among others. Currently, he works with the Credit Valley Conservation Foundation and devotes the rest of his time to Incubate.

“Incubate Institute was established as a way to leverage the networks and skills of very talented community leaders for the benefit of local projects,” says Mehta. “The project came to fruition after years of seeing a gap within the local non-profit and social-service sector, namely a lack of support for budding organizations within the initiation stages.”

The institute aims to support and guide projects through difficult stages of development, and the goal, says Mehta, is that eventually the projects will be self-sustaining and will contribute social good to the community at large.

Currently, Incubate Institute has a board of nine members, all of whom come from different professional backgrounds and skillsets. With their team of volunteers, they are currently working on three projects: Lab-B Co-working Space, an initiative by Harman Grewal and Harpreet Singh with the goal of uniting individuals in a collaborative space, encouraging creativity and knowledge-sharing in Brampton and surrounding areas; Bees in the City, an environmental program developed by Stephen Rice, a seasoned, local developer of honey and Olga Tkachenko, a student with a passion for beekeeping; and Brave Beginnings, a support program for women in the South Asian community, founded by Samra Zafar, a mother who is a survivor of abuse.

Once these projects have “graduated” from the institute, the team will slowly take on additional projects within their mentorship capacity.

“We are 100 percent run by volunteers, and everyone plays a role in helping our projects succeed,” says Mehta. “We are not successful until our projects are successful.”

Incubate Institute is always looking for professionals to volunteer their time and effort to help projects become successful by mentoring or coaching. If you are interested in volunteering, email info@incubateinstitute.org or visit incubateinstitute.org.