By Maria Valdez Haubrich
I love reading about people achieving their dreams of entrepreneurship, so I was touched by this story in the Los Angeles Times about a program that helps disabled military veterans start successful businesses.
The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities was founded by J. Michael Haynie, an Air Force veteran and now an assistant professor of Entrepreneurship at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. The program is held at six universities nationwide: Texas A&M University, Florida State University, Purdue University, University of California
Los Angeles, the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University.
The program is free to veterans—all expenses are paid for by donations from businesspeople. “If we know anything from history, for veterans with disabilities the path to traditional employment is a challenge,” Haynie told the Times about why he started EBV. On top of their disabilities, veterans often have to deal with medical appointments or special needs that make it hard to find traditional jobs.
On the other hand, with their experience in leadership, thinking on their feet and taking charge, veterans are well suited to be their own bosses.
So far the program has been very successful. According to Hayne, the first program was held at Syracuse University in 2007. Of that class of 20, 14 now own full-time businesses; of those, four had sales over $1 million last year.
The federal government and most state governments have set-aside programs that encourage veteran business owners to get government contracts—and most of them are falling short of their goals, which means there is plenty of opportunity for qualified veterans to gain contracts.
You can find out more about the EBV program at this SBA website.
Also check for franchises participating in the VetFran program, which often means lower franchise fees and help with startup expenses.