Every day women and men put their lives on the line for our freedoms as Americans. Whether they are in uniform overseas or serving administratively on U.S. soil, their service and commitment to this country should not go overlooked.
Each year, an estimated 200,000 service members return to civilian life. For a number of them, they are returning to uncharted territory when it comes to exploring alternative career opportunities, connecting with others, and finding resources to help them develop their skills.
For those reasons and more, many veterans learn entrepreneurship and become small business owners. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s survey of small business owners, there are 2.52 million veteran majority-owned businesses in the U.S.
In efforts to prepare more veterans and service members to become small business owners, Facebook recently announced the launch of the Military and Veterans Hub. The hub will provide online safety tips, resources for finding jobs and digital skills training. They are also partnering with SCORE to match veterans with mentors.
Overseeing the partnership is Nkechi “Payton” Iheme, public policy manager at Facebook. Iheme is a proud veteran who served 15 years on active duty; worked in the White House; and owns a home remodeling business with her husband. She is also a proud alum of SCORE.
The narrative career thread has created numerous opportunities to lead and Iheme says that it is something that she’s passionate about.
“I really enjoy tech. I like the thought of what tech can do and how it can really up-level people who may not have had the same opportunities as others. I was really driven and pulled to do mission-focused work,” says Iheme.
She goes on to say, being able to draw from her military background to help veterans within the company and veterans in the community is gratifying work.
Veterans are building community
More than 900,000 people in the U.S. participate in more than 2,000 groups for military members, veterans, and their spouses on Facebook. Given the large community, the strategic partnership will benefit people all over.
In a statement released by Bridget Weston, CEO of SCORE, she shared her excitement saying, “We are grateful for all that our nation’s veterans have done for us, and are proud to help veterans and their families who want to start their own business. Data shows that entrepreneurs with access to a mentor are five times more likely to succeed in business, and we’re excited to be working with Facebook to provide our veteran community with the support and guidance they need to succeed.”
To that point, Iheme adds, “We know when you’re dealing with marginalized communities or smaller communities like the veteran community, you really need that leg up.”
The program offers:
- A mentor match that connects military members and veterans with a cohort of SCORE’s experienced business mentors who are also U.S. veterans.
- A veteran-focused educational toolkit for launching a business, including steps for developing a business plan.
- Veteran-focused interactive workshops for guidance on starting a business. SCORE’s veteran mentors will also be available to all attendees after the workshop for continued support through all stages of startup and growth.
Users will also be able to learn how to start a business, use measurement and targeting tools to advertise their business. Those who’ve begun their entrepreneurial journeys will be able to sharpen their skills.
In addition to the partnership, Facebook is launching a 12-month pilot program for veterans with backgrounds in computer science, engineering, and mechanical engineering focused on augmented and virtual reality later this month.
“Veterans will come to Facebook and learn from our experts on how to develop augmented and virtual reality. And if they do well, they can be offered a full-time position,” says Iheme.
This news couldn’t come at a better time as we prepare to celebrate Veterans Day.
If you’re looking to launch a veteran-owned business or share this information with someone else, click here to learn more about the Military and Veteran Hub.