Agency Offers Business Training for Veterans
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 9, 2011 – Service members and wounded veterans returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan can start a business or expand their existing businesses through programs offered by the Small Business Administration, officials said.
Veterans can get business counseling and training, and capital and business development opportunities through government contracts to help them with their small businesses, SBA Administrator Karen Mills said.
“Around Veterans Day,” Mills said, “our thoughts turn to the men and women who are serving or have served in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as to all who have made sacrifices and served our country in the armed forces.
“When you consider the leadership and management skills our veterans develop while on active and reserve duty,” she added, “it’s no wonder we see so many of them choose a path as entrepreneurs and small business owners.”
One such program, officials said, is the Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities. The nine-day course shows wounded veterans how to start and grow small businesses. It is open to service-disabled veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and their family caregivers, women veterans, and National Guard and Reserve members and their families.
Through a three-year partnership between SBA and Syracuse University, more than 320 wounded warriors have graduated from the program and launched 150 businesses. The University of Connecticut; the University of California, Los Angeles; Florida State University; Texas A&M University; Purdue University; Louisiana State University; and Cornell University also participate in the program, officials said.
Two other new programs that support veteran entrepreneurs feature a cooperative agreement over three years and $2.6 million in assistance funding from the SBA, officials said.
The first, Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship, focuses on training, networking and mentoring for women veterans. The three-day, off-site program, with online training and network support, expects to train 1,400 women in 36 months.
The second new program is Operation Endure and Grow for National Guard members and reservists, their families and partners. Its goal is to mitigate economic hardships that can affect deployed troops and families that operate small businesses. The program comprises eight weeks of online course work on the basics of launching and growing a small business for those who keep the business running when a service member is deployed, injured or killed.
SBA officials say both of the new programs are expected to assist more than 1,950 individuals and their families over three years.
SBA officials say the agency had a near-record year of lending to veteran-owned small businesses in fiscal year 2011, providing more than 4,300 loans totaling $1.5 billion in its flagship 7(a) and 504 programs.
Since 2007, SBA’s Patriot Express loan pilot initiative guaranteed loans of more than $667 million to nearly 8,100 veterans, reservists and their spouses to start or expand small businesses. The initiative, extended through 2013, provided more than 1,560 loans totaling $142 million in fiscal year 2011.
Patriot Express is offered by SBA’s network of participating lenders nationwide and offers one of its fastest turnaround times for loan approvals, agency officials said.
In government contracting, the SBA worked with contracting officers and veteran-owned small businesses to deliver the highest-ever percentage of federal contracts to service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses in fiscal year 2010, totaling $10.4 billion.
SBA also assists service-disabled veteran-owned businesses that compete with other small businesses for set-aside contracts.
The SBA also is expanding its outreach to service-disabled veterans with an online contracting tutorial to help veterans and military spouses with small businesses identify and take advantage of federal contracting opportunities.