As part of its “Boots to Business” program, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced today that it has awarded a $3 million grant to Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) to deliver entrepreneurship education and training to transitioning service members.
“Veterans are a cornerstone of small business ownership,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, who met with veteran small business owners within hours of starting at SBA on April 7. “We owe them a debt of gratitude for their service. Veterans have the skills to adapt to many challenges and the leadership and discipline required to own and operate a small business. The SBA is committed to supporting our veterans as they transition back to civilian life and pursue the American Dream by starting businesses when they come home.”
Boots to Business is a three-step program developed to introduce transitioning service members to business ownership and connect them to support resources in their local communities. The curriculum provides valuable assistance for exploring self-employment opportunities by leading participants through the key steps for evaluating business concepts and the foundational knowledge required for developing a business plan.
Funding for the agreement will support instruction, curriculum development, and materials production for the program, which includes two-day courses on military installations and an instructor-led eight-week online course to introduce and prepare transitioning service members for business ownership and connect them to local SBA resources for continued support. The funds will also be used to extend Boots to Business to service members overseas.
The agreement with IVMF enables a consortium of 14 universities across the U.S. to provide instructors for the Boots to Business entrepreneurship training program. IVMF will work closely with SBA and SBA resource partners, including the Small Business Development Centers (SBDC), Women’s Business Centers (WBC), SCORE and Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC), who provide essential instruction, mentorship, and access to capital counseling to program participants.
Boots to Business is a training track within the Department of Defense’s “Transition, Goals, Plans, Success” (Transition GPS) program that is designed to support service members as they transition to civilian life. Boots to Business began as a pilot in 2012, expanded nationally in 2013, and was appropriated $7 million in the fiscal year 2014 federal budget for sustainment and expansion. During the first full year of the program, more than 6,000 transitioning service members participated in the two-day “Introduction to Entrepreneurship” class on 140 U.S. military installations.
Each year, more than 250,000 service members transition out of the military. These veterans are natural entrepreneurs who possess the skills, experience and leadership to start businesses and create jobs.
Veterans make up a large number of successful small business owners. Nine percent of small businesses are veteran-owned. These 2.45 million veteran-owned businesses employ more than five million individuals. In the private sector workforce, veterans are more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed.
SBA currently engages veterans through its 68 local SBA district offices, 16 Veterans Business Outreach Centers nationwide, and its partnership with 1,000 SBDCs and some 12,000 SCORE Chapters.
Each year SBA helps more than 200,000 veterans, service-disabled veterans and reservists start and grow their small businesses. To learn more about additional opportunities for veterans available through the SBA, visit www.sba.gov/vets.