This week, the American Legion, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) provided a necessary starting point for women veterans who are interested in launching their own businesses. In a less than perfect economy, a growing number of veterans, particularly veteran women, have found that the skills they developed in service are well-suited for the demands of entrepreneurship. Business ownership provides veteran women with the opportunity to achieve financial stability as well as the freedom to build a career that fits their lifestyle and family needs post-service.
It is for this reason that these three organizations came together to provide the free-of-charge, For Her Entrepreneurship: Resources, Opportunities, Experiences and Support training course, which took place in conjunction with the American Legion’s 95th Annual National Convention in Houston, Texas on Aug. 26-27. “Entrepreneurship is the answer for many veterans who find the job market a particularly tough one these days,” says Joe Sharpe, director of the Legion’s National Economic Division. “That is one reason why veterans are more likely than non-veterans to start their own small businesses. However, the entrepreneurial interests of women veterans have been neglected. That is why this groundbreaking session will be so valuable.”
The IVMF, in partnership with the SBA, has developed pioneering programming in veteran women entrepreneurship since 2007, including the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) program, which has served over 1,000 women veterans in cities across the U.S. The tremendous success of V-WISE has lead to further collaboration between the IVMF and the SBA, this time working with the American Legion to bring the spirit of entrepreneurship to Houston.
The curriculum of the course included introductions to business plan formation, financial planning, start-up funding and marketing. The focus was on basic entrepreneurship and skills training, plus detailed information on resources and support programs specifically designed to aid veterans in working with the federal government. Nearly 150 veteran women participated in the two-day course, hoping to find out if entrepreneurship is right for them or to propel their current businesses forward.
IVMF Executive Director Mike Haynie served as the primary instructor for the course, guiding participants through presentations given by an impressive collection of business experts. “The team at the IVMF is always thrilled to be able to partner with the SBA to advance the cause of veteran entrepreneurship, and we’re exited to be able to expand our programming in concert with the American Legion, one of the nation’s most historic Veteran Service Organizations,” says Haynie. “We must continue to find new ways to spread the tools of business ownership to our veterans to help them to chart their own future, a future they fought to defend for all of us.”
Participants who completed the program have also been provided access to the IVMF’s Foundations of Entrepreneurship course. The eight-week online course will require approximately 10 hours of study per week and will provide students with more guidance in developing a business plan. The two-day course and the online program will bring this group of women a great deal closer to making their dreams of business ownership a reality.