State program turns Veterans into tomorrow's entrepreneurs

In the FOX 7 Care Force, a recurring theme is ways vets can transition from the business of the military to civilian business.

The Texas Veterans Commission is taking the direct approach with a program to train vets to open their own small businesses.

This last weekend they graduated the first class of the Veteran Entrepreneur Academy.

Mike Warren caught up with the new, prospective entrepreneurs; they were cutting the cake to celebrate the accomplishment.

Eleven veterans made it through the academy now armed with knowledge, training and startup money, up to a $35,000 loan from the People Fund.

Grads like Jennifer Haines now have a realistic outlook on their dreams.

“It's not just about getting a loan and expecting everything to happen for you. There's a lot of research involved...a lot of long hours and nights without sleep and trying to figure out how am I gonna sell my business..how am I going to keep it going,” she explained.

She'll operate a salon in San Antonio, and for program head Duncan McGee she's a perfect example of what he wants the program to do.

“We provide them with intensive training that's focused on the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, target markets, capital acquisition, profitability, and provide them the tools for that,” McGee said.

The Texas Veterans Commission worked on the curriculum for a year, this class started four months ago.

“The folks who took part in this today worked hard...we asked a lot of them...this wasn't a gimme..there was a lot of work..everybody put in the effort and we couldn't be prouder of the end product...it was a fantastic experience.”

The class consisted of some one-on-one instruction and webinars.

“They have turned me into a business woman which before I was just trying to get by..and now I feel like I'm gonna be very successful and I'm thankful for that,” said Haines.

               

Looking forward, the hope is to have three classes a year in different parts of the state with 15 to 20 vets per class and now they have 11 new business people who also act as recruiters.

“If there are vets out there that are looking for a unique opportunity to get their voice heard and have their business started or in a business to have the extra push of somebody whose in there and actually doing it..please apply,” said McGee.

If you’re a vet and are interested in finding out more about the academy and the program, click here.

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