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Resources for Veteran Business Owners

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vamboa article

By Debbie Gregory.

Many veterans exhibit advanced team building skills, high levels of resiliency and strong organizational commitment, traits that contribute to making them successful entrepreneurs. There are numerous resources that assist veteran business owners thrive, including the following:

VAMBOA, the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, is a non-profit trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners by providing networking, collaboration, mentoring, education, certification and advocacy. Membership is free.

American Corporate Partners is engaged in national corporate career counseling for returning military. The non-profit connects veterans to business leaders for mentorship and career advice.

BusinessUSA provides users with an interactive questionnaire that guides them to the most relevant federal, state, and local services, tools, trainings, and opportunities, assisting in starting or expanding a veteran owned small business.

DVBE, the Disabled Veteran Business Alliance, empowers, provides resources to, and works side-by-side with disabled veterans to promote and support them in establishing, maintaining and growing viable business enterprises.

EBV Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities offers training in entrepreneurship and business management to post-9/11 veterans with service related disabilities.

Federal Business Opportunities is a portal for all businesses, not just vet owned, looking for active federal contracting opportunities.

Honor Courage Commitment, Inc. provides resources such as grants, scholarships and a fellowship program to veteran entrepreneurs, designed to build leadership qualities.

Institute for Veteran and Military Families provides a wide variety of resources geared towards military veterans re-entering the workforce or looking to start their own businesses.

National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC)  is the nation’s leading third party authority for certification of veteran owned businesses of all sizes.

National Veteran Small Business Coalition supports veteran owned small businesses by promoting policies that encourage participation of veteran owned businesses in federal contracting opportunities.

Patriot Boot Camp  focuses on helping active duty military, veterans and their spouses build technology companies. The three day event provides participants with free education, training and mentorship.

Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a multitude of assistance to veterans in their local communities, including Veteran Business Outreach Centers, Boots to Business,

SDVOSBC , the National Center for Veterans Institute for Procurement, Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), and Leveraging Information and Networks to Access Capital (LINC) .

Streetshares brings together business owners in search of funding and investors looking for both financial and social returns.

21 Gun Salute Initiative supports service-disabled veteran owned businesses with the goal of reserving 3% of contracts for service-disabled veteran owned small businesses.

VetBiz is a VA website that provides information about the Center for Verification and Evaluation’s verification process for veteran owned businesses looking to gain eligibility for the VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program.

VetBizCentral is a veteran run site that assists veteran and active duty military entrepreneurs through training and counseling, networking opportunities, mentoring and advocacy.

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal provides access to a number of business tools and services, from business education to financing opportunities.

Veteran Fast Launch Initiative provides mentoring and training, along with free software and other services, to military veteran entrepreneurs.

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship  provides resources, courses and mentorship to female veterans who have started businesses or are looking to do so.

Vetrepreneur Mentoring provides mentoring services to help veteran entrepreneurs with everything from contractor registration to website creation.

Victory Spark is an accelerator program focused on startups led by U.S. military veterans. The program includes a 12-week mentor-driven Lean LaunchPad Program, along with grant funding for entrepreneurs who complete the program.

 

 

vamboa article

By Debbie Gregory.

We still have hope that the Veterans Entrepreneurial Transition Act, originally proposed in 2015, will be passed. The legislation would allow the SBA to conduct a 3-year pilot program for up to 250 budding veteran entrepreneurs to use their GI Bill benefits to start a business. While it had widespread support from veterans’ groups, it didn’t receive a full Congressional vote before the end of the year. Perhaps the new Congress will see the merits of this legislation, and get it passed. Until then, here are some resources that veteran business owners should be taking advantage of:

Entrepreneurship for Transitioning Warriors is a program offered by non-profit VetToCEO. The free 7-week online program is comprised of  seven two-hour modules that give you  the basics of starting your own business. With rolling enrollment, veterans can join the program at any time.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV) is a free training program for post-9/11 veterans with a service-connected disability. This program is offered through a consortium of universities including Cornell, Syracuse, Florida State, UCLA, Texas A&M, Purdue, UConn, LSU, Saint Joseph’s, and the University of Missouri. EBV consists of an online, instructor-led 30-day curriculum, followed by a 9-day in-residence session at the university. EBV programs run from March through November each year on a first-come, first-served basis.

Patriot Boot Camp is geared towards technology entrepreneurs.  Attendance at PBC is encouraged if you’re considering a tech startup. PBC is free to veterans, active-duty members, and spouses.

Bunker Labs offers the Bunker in a Box program,  an online mini-course in veterans entrepreneurship. Lessons feature a short video from the Bunker team, as well as articles, interviews, podcasts and presentations from prominent entrepreneurs and experts.

StreetShares Foundation is the non-profit arm of the military social lending platform, StreetShares. The foundation staff selects 5-10 finalists each month, based on: business idea, product-market fit, team and company history, use of award funds and potential impact, and influence of the business on the military and veterans community. First, second, and third-place awards of $5,000, $3,000, and $2,000 are awarded.

The Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) is a good resource for training, counseling and mentoring, and resource referrals. VBOCs also provide transition assistance programs via Boots to Business part of the military’s formal Transition Assistance Program, offered on military installations around the world. Boots to Business assists service members, military spouses and veterans identify business opportunities, draft their business plans, and launch their enterprises. Other programs supported by OVBD are geared specifically for women veterans, service-disabled veterans, and veterans interested in federal procurement.

Research to Expand Veteran Entrepreneurship

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By Debbie Gregory.

A new study is poised to gain insight into the newest generation of veteran entrepreneurs, with the collected data being utilized to develop policies and programs to support their successes.

The study is collaboration between the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) and Bunker Labs, the leading incubator for veteran-owned businesses in America.

This joint research effort will provide insights that will hopefully increase the current rate of veteran entrepreneurship, and increase the success of existing veteran entrepreneurs.

IVMF offers  a number of programs, including the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities, Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans Families,  Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship, Operation Boots to Business, Boots to Business Reboot, Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship, Coalition for Veteran Owned Business, VETNET, and the VetSmallBiz Challenge.

More than 32,000 veterans, service members and military spouses participated in IVMF programs in 2015.

The IVMF research team will conduct qualitative and quantitative research at Bunker Labs locations across the country. The use of focus groups and surveys will also allow the participation of female veteran entrepreneurs, which is seeing a dramatic increase in numbers.

The research outcome is designed to understand all aspects of veteran entrepreneurship, especially the obstacles and challenges that are involved in the process. The findings will no doubt reveal insights that can be scaled into larger solutions to support the next generation of veteran entrepreneurs.

Funded by the IVMF’s Center of Excellence for Veteran Entrepreneurship, the research will create benchmarks that will lay the groundwork to inform the design of future national studies on veteran entrepreneurs. The research this spring will culminate in findings being reported out nationally in summer 2017.

Veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs wanting to participate in the research can learn more here.

sba

The U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) is looking to serve small business owners as they look for ways to access capital.

Earlier this year, the SBA implemented a new measure to help get small business loans into the hands of veterans.  To continue supporting America’s veterans, the SBA Veterans Advantage reduces the up-front guaranty fee from 3% to 0% for SBA Express loans over $150,000 approved to small businesses owned by qualified veterans.

The SBA has implemented this measure in order to encourage greater participation in SBA lending programs with a direct benefit to veteran-owned small businesses.

This measure set the borrower upfront fee to zero for all veteran loans authorized under the SBA Express program (up to $350,000) which accounts for 73 percent of these loans.  The initiative started on January 1st, and will continue through the end of the fiscal year.

This change makes loans more affordable for borrowers.

Again, this policy announcement means that under the SBA Express program, veteran borrowers will no longer have to pay any upfront fee for any loan up to $350,000.

SBA provides veterans access to business counseling and training, capital and business development opportunities through government contracts. In FY 2013, SBA supported $1.86 billion in loans for 3,094 veteran-owned small businesses.   And since 2009, the dollar amount of SBA lending support to veteran-owned firms has nearly doubled.

Businesses must be 51% or more owned and controlled by an individual or individuals in one or more of the following groups: Veterans (other than dishonorably discharged); Service-Disabled Veterans; Active Duty Military service member participating in the military’s Transition  Assistance Program (TAP); Reservists and National Guard Members; or the Current spouse of any Veteran, Active Duty service member, or any Reservist or National Guard member; or widowed spouse of a service member who died while in service or of a service-connected disability.

 

streetsharesfoundation

By Debbie Gregory

StreetShares, Inc., one of VAMBOA’s strategic partners, is a lending and investing community for veterans and their supporters. StreetShares’ principals have announced the formation of the StreetShares Foundation.

The goal of the StreetShares Foundation is to inspire, educate, and support veteran small business owners. The foundation is partnering with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to provide up to $10,000 each month in Veteran Small Business Awards.

Both StreetShares Foundation and StreetShares, Inc. are veteran-operated..

Iraq War veteran Mark L. Rockefeller, CEO/Co-Founder of StreetShares, said, “Veteran business ownership has been the backbone of the United States economy since World War II. The goal of the StreetShares Foundation is to provide a new generation of veteran and military-spouse small business owners the support they need to thrive.”

The Foundation plans to give three Veteran Small Business Awards each month. Small businesses owned by military veterans, current reserve or active duty members, and qualified military spouses are eligible to apply. The awards are $2,000 for third place, $3,000 for second place, and $5,000 for the first place winner.

Award applications and educational material can be found on the foundation’s website at StreetShares.com/Foundation.

StreetShares had previously conducted a small award program. Last year’s winners collectively reported increasing revenues by over $1 million, hiring 24 new employees, and scoring a “Shark Tank” TV show appearance. With sponsorship from JPMorgan Chase and others, the StreetShares Foundation has plans to substantially expand the award program.

The Veteran Small Business Award program encourages everyone who supports veterans and entrepreneurship to participate in voting for their favorite veteran business at StreetShares.com/Foundation. Finalists will be presented for public vote each month.

We at VAMBOA are proud to partner with StreetShares and further the opportunities they present to military owned and veteran owned businesses.

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