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SBA And Syracuse University Help Veterans And Their Families Become Entrepreneurs

November 15, 2010

Close up of handshake between military member and female civilianThe U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Syracuse University recently announced it would expand their entrepreneurship program for veterans with disabilities as well as launch two new entrepreneurship programs to help veterans and military family members start their own small businesses.

USA Today reported that, according to SBA, one in seven veterans is self-employed or a small business owner and approximately a quarter of veterans reported being interested in starting or buying their own business. As former Marine Brian Iglesias pointed out, "When you're in the military, you live a life or purpose. You get up and put on your uniform, and you fulfill your purpose. But back home, you're a regular Joe, just like everybody else."

For many, that new purpose is running a business. However, most veterans do not know where to begin. "It is a difficult transition, said Dawn Halfaker, a former Army captain who founded Halfaker & Associates, a security consulting firm in Arlington, VA. "Military and business are very, very different."

In order to ease the transition, SBA and Syracuse University started a program called Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities in 2009. As a press release reported, the program provides training in entrepreneurship and small business management for service-disabled veterans at six campuses. Now in its second year, the boot camp is expanding to a seventh campus--E.J. Ourso College of Business at Louisiana State University. More than 320 disabled veterans have graduated from the program to date and some 150 businesses have been launched by grads.

"Through our partnership with Syracuse University we are continuing to strengthen the tools and resources available to [service-disabled veterans]," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.

SBA is also starting a program targeted to women veterans, called Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE). The program will provide training, network support and mentorship for women veterans who want to start a small business. Some 1,400 female veterans are expected to participate in V-WISE over a 36-month period.

The second program SBA announced is geared towards National Guard and Reserve members, their families and business partners. The program is open to family members who are full-time caretakers of wounded veterans as well as spouses of those who lost their lives in combat. It will focus on the fundamentals of launching and growing a small business through online courses and mentorship.

Nelida Bagley started the program last month. Bagley quit her job to take care of her son, who was severely injured while deployed to Iraq in 2006. She told The Wall Street Journal that she joined the program so she would not have to depend on her daughter for financial support. "My daughter has been taking care of me for the past five years. So I need some type of income to allow me to take care of my family... This program is a tremendous relief," she said.


"New Programs Steer Veterans, Families to Entrepreneurship," online.wsj.com, November 11, 2010, Sarah E. Needleman

"SBA Expands Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Vets," businesswire.com, November 10, 2010

"Vets use skills learned in battle to make mark in business world," USAToday.com, November 11, 2010, Laura Petrecca

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