By Sarah Greer, WTC Strategic Communications
I’ve been doing a lot of research recently on career and education resources for wounded warriors, and I was surprised at how many entrepreneurship resources the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) offers, primarily through the Office of Veterans Business Development. Many of these resources are available to nearly all Veterans, and AW2 Veterans considering starting a business should learn about the resources available.
According to an SBA press release, one in seven Veterans are self-employed or small business owners. And it only makes sense, because servicemembers spend so much time training in leadership, and I’ve found that they’re the type of people who are willing to take smart, educated risks to create a better life for themselves and their Families.
SBA resources include:
- Loans: Through the first two programs below, SBA supported more than 4,800 loans to Veterans totaling more than $1.25 billion in FY2010 alone.
- SBA 7(a) Loan: SBA backs loans to qualified small businesses, including Veteran-owned businesses, through this most popular loan program. SBA doesn’t lend the money, but provides a guarantee to the lending financial organization.
- 504 loans for Veteran Entrepreneurs and Small Business Owners: SBA backs this longer-term, fixed-rate loan to promote economic development within a community through Certified Development Companies (CDCs) that are set up to contribute to the economic development of its community. CDCs work with SBA and private sector lenders to provide financing to small businesses for approved purposes.
- Patriot Express Loan Pilot Program: SBA offers this low-interest loan to Veterans and military personnel to expand or establish a small business.
- Entrepreneurship Education: SBA provides counseling and training to Veterans interested in starting their own business.
- Veteran Business Outreach Center Program (VBOC): SBA works with local organizations to provide business development services to Veterans. Services include business training, counseling and mentoring, and pre-business plan workshops.
- Entrepreneurship Boot Camp for Veterans with Disabilities (EBV): SBA works closely with seven major business schools around the country to offer a one-year “boot camp” for service-disabled OEF/OIF Veterans.
- Operation Endure & Grow: SBA offers this program in cooperation with the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. Veterans of the National Guard and Reserve, as well as their Families, may participate in this 8–week training program.
- Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE): SBA offers this program in cooperation with the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University. Women Veterans learn to expand or establish through online training, and an onsite conference, and they receive ongoing mentorship support after completing the program.
- Opportunities for Federal Contracts: Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB) have a level playing field with other small businesses in the federal contracting arena, as established by the Small Business Jobs Act. SBA provides more information about the contracting options and resources on its website.
- Contracting Tutorial: SBA offers an online training in federal contracting that can be taken any time, from any computer.
- SBA Mentor-Protégé Program for SDVOSB: SBA plans to launch this program later this year—watch the AW2 blog for more information.
Are you an AW2 Veteran who’s started a small business? We’d love to hear from you and share your “lessons learned” with other AW2 Soldiers, Veterans, and Families through the AW2 blog. Send us your story at WarriorCareCommunications@conus.army.mil.