Small Business Advisor Program

The volunteer Small Business Advisor Program is a 10-week long training program for graduate business students who want to accrue hands-on business experience, become small business consultants and make a difference in the life of San Francisco Bay Area rising entrepreneurs.  

Centro created this volunteer program as an essential component of its entrepreneur development model, which benefits greatly both entrepreneurs and advisors. Through this program, MBA students and other graduate business school students have the particularly unique opportunity to truly learn what it takes to start a business and seek funding.

This program is for top-performing students who are passionate about entrepreneurship, finance, consulting, nonprofit and economic development.

Structure & Methodology

Graduate business students turn into Small Business Advisors to local small business entrepreneurs. Centro supports them to advice on startup finance, marketing, strategy, and operations as volunteers by creating measurable social and economic impact in the community. Participants:

  • Complete a 2.5-hour workshop introducing participants to key coaching and advising skills

  • Participate in 20 hours of workshops working with entrepreneurs in Centro's Advanced Entrepreneurship Program to help them analyze their business and action plans to improve them.

  • Work with a small group of 6-10 entrepreneurs and 3-4 MBA students.

  • Led by a facilitator trained to enrich in class discussion, facilitate ideation, foster critical thinking and empower people to succeed

  • Optional: Provide follow-up support to entrepreneurs, helping them implement their action plans and improve their business


  • Gain hands-on experience advising and coaching real entrepreneurs, and helping them improve their business

  • Collaborate and network with graduate business students, entrepreneurs and experienced professional advisors

  • Learn how to start and grow a small business

  • Contribute to the growth of real business enterprises in underserved communities, and help entrepreneurs make high-impact decisions


  • Current MBA student (or comparable masters degree)

  • Completion of basic financial and managerial accounting courses

  • 2-4 years of work experience

  • Experience developing business plans, financial forecasts, and/or marketing strategies

  • Small business and/or project management experience is a plus

  • Foreign language is a plus

  • Able to attend weekly 2.5-hour workshops for the duration of the 10-week program

Upcoming 9-session Small Business Advisor Programs

  • Spring 2019 intake starts March 7.

  • Fall 2019 intake starts September 5.

How to Apply

If you are interested in being a volunteer Small Business Advisor, please apply online to join our Spring or Fall intake, and follow up with an email to attaching your:

  1. Resume

  2. Writing sample (one-page sample of your business writing style and ability)

We have a rolling admissions process and welcome applications anytime for the next available intake.


If you have any questions, do not hesitate to contact us at

Educational partners

MBA Advisor Program Alumni

Testimonials from Former Participants

The biggest impact that being a part of Centro has had on me is taking what I am learning at school, and seeing it in action.
— Parijat Tanna, Mills College MBA
Working with my entrepreneur at Centro has been an incredibly rewarding experience, giving me the opportunity to apply my business school education and experience in assisting someone achieve their dream.
— Jonathan Wilson, SF State University MBA
Centro gave me a unique perspective into entrepreneurship that I could not receive in my MBA classes, and that was the fact that I was playing an integral part of someone’s actual dream and livelihood.
— Eugene Oh, UC Berkeley MBA
My most special moment at Centro was watching the entrepreneurs make their final presentations. It was overwhelming to see their passion and dedication. It makes you feel proud to have been able to help out.
— Sheetal Kapani, SF State University MBA
Volunteering with Centro has been an amazing and insightful adventure: the step-by-step process of helping my entrepreneur make her dream become a reality has given me valuable life experience.
— Senaa Al-Ghanem, Mills College MBA
I am very thankful that you guys are so calm and composed as you lead us to a higher understanding of not only our entrepreneur’s potential, but also our own.
— Sean Chon, SF State University MBA