IGNITE – Ignites the spirit for female business entrepreneurs

IGNITE – Ignites the spirit for female business entrepreneurs

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Tenacity, resilience, grit. These three words can be used to describe service members and their spouses, whose ability to bend but not break under the pressure of serving our country, goes unmatched.

The same words can be used to describe entrepreneurs as they maneuver the highly competitive business world in hopes to sell their product or service.

At the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), a large focus has been set on aiding service members, veterans and their spouses to utilize the skills and tools they have gained from their military service and become entrepreneurs.

Thanks to an invitation and support from the Association of the United States Army’s (AUSA) Family Readiness Directorate, one of the IVMF’s newest programs was hosted at AUSA’s Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington D.C.

The second-ever V-WISE IGNITE immersed more than 70 female service members, veterans, and spouses into the world of entrepreneurship.

In a first-of-its-kind programming partnership for AUSA, this one-day program seeks to help women explore the opportunity of small business ownership as a career path.

Utilizing nationally acclaimed speakers, expert instructors, resource providers, and successful veteran women and military spouse entrepreneurs, IGNITE allows participants to explore the lifestyle of an entrepreneur, discover pathways to small business ownership, and connect to the community of support that’s available.

This incredible programming opportunity also serves as a precursor to the Veteran Women Igniting the concept of entrepreneurship and how individuals relate to business ownership.

Next, the group listened to a panel discussion of veteran and spouse business owners on the various pathways to entrepreneurship, such as new business startups, franchising, purchasing an existing business and nonprofits.

After the panel, the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) deputy administrator, Althea Coetzee Leslie, not only spoke about her experience and how she was able to transfer her military skills into the corporate sector, but also hosted a Q&A session about the services available to them from the SBA.

During lunch, the women networked with one another with experts at roundtables and learned about topics such as access to capital, personal branding, online marketing and business planning.

After lunch, participants listened to keynote speaker Jamila Payne discuss how to remove your own roadblocks and how to set goals to start your own business.

The day’s program closed with a “fireside chat” moderated by the SBA’s associate administrator, Office of Veterans Business Development, Barbara Carson.

This chat included two successful veteran business owners who discussed their ups, downs and lessons learned as they built their ventures from the ground up.

Overall, the goal of IGNITE is to do just that: Ignite the spirit for entrepreneurship in female service members, veterans and spouses by empowering them to use their experience to start their own businesses.

(Editor’s note: Elissa Gibbs serves as the Program Coordinator for the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans (EBV) and the Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) programs.)