Barbara Carson is the SBA Associate Administrator for the Office of Veterans Business Development and Erin Andrew is the Assistant Administrator for SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership.
This is a great time to be a woman veteran on the path to entrepreneurship. So much progress is being made in the growth of successful veteran women-owned businesses. Much of that vibrant advancement is based on the network of education, counseling and access to capital provided by the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development (OVBD), the Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) programs, and SBA’s resource partners.
The SBA has presented a report to Congress focusing on the Agency’s outreach to aspiring and established veteran women entrepreneurs. SBA’s Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) and Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs) are the primary resource partners for women veterans looking to start and/or grow their businesses as well as SBA’s Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) and SCORE. These centers contribute greatly to the phenomenal growth of women veteran entrepreneurs.
The report to Congress included U.S. Census data, reflecting the uptick of women veteran entrepreneurship, along with some compelling demographic information about women veterans:
- Women represent about 15 percent of active duty military, 18.8 percent of the Reserve and Guard, and 20 percent of new recruits, according to the U.S. Department of Defense. Nearly 280,000 women have served Post 9/11 in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- The total women veteran population in the U.S. and its territories is 2,035,213.
- As of 2012, there are 383,302 veteran women-owned businesses in the U.S. This reflects an increase from 2007 of nearly 300 percent, or an additional 286,188 businesses.
- In 2007, 4 percent of U.S. businesses were women-owned. By 2012, it increased to 15.2 percent.
- In 2012, veteran women-owned businesses with no employees generated a total of $17.9 billion in receipts (businesses with employees generate a total of $10.9 billion).
Meanwhile, in 2015 SBA’s 7(a) and 504 loan programs provided 239 loans to veteran women-owned firms totaling $87 million, representing a significant increase over the last five years.
The lifeline of SBA assistance supporting women’s veteran entrepreneurship begins with the broad network of resources:
Women’s Business Centers (WBC) – Through the management and technical assistance provided by the WBCs, entrepreneurs, especially women who are economically or socially disadvantaged, are offered comprehensive training and counseling on a vast array of topics in many languages to help them start and grow their own businesses. Of the more than 100 WBCs, 20 of the centers specifically target the women veteran demographic.
Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOC) –The SBA has 14 organizations participating in this cooperative agreement and serving as Veterans Business Outreach Centers across the nation. The VBOC program provides entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling, mentoring, and referrals for eligible veterans owning or considering starting a small business.
Boots to Business (B2B) –Boots to Business, SBA’s entrepreneurial training program for transitioning service members, has reached over 30,000 participants since the program began in 2013. In 2015, 14,419 transitioning service members and spouses benefited from the two-day Introduction to Entrepreneurship course.
Boots to Business| Reboot – In November 2015, SBA launched Boots to Business| Reboot to reach a broader population of veterans. Reboot was introduced in cities nationwide with the support of SBA District Offices and serves all eras of veterans. B2B| Reboot is projected to serve 3,000 veterans at 150 community courses in the coming year.
Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-Wise) –A three-phase program, V-WISE is offered three times per year across the nation, to approximately 200 participants per session. The program includes a growth track for women veterans and women military spouses already in business as well as start-up training for new entrepreneurs.
Veterans Institute for Procurement (VIP) – VIP is designed for veteran-owned businesses to increase their ability to win government contracts by establishing best business practices. VIP includes a training program consisting of a three-day certification course taught by professional service experts, government officials, and agency representatives. Since the program began in 2009, VIP has graduated 546 veteran-owned businesses from 37 states, Washington, D.C., and Guam.
At the SBA, we’re determined to expand our outreach efforts to reach more women veteran entrepreneurs achieve their goals of creating successful businesses, and serving as role models for their sisters who also courageously served our nation.