Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the Small Business Administration blog. See the original post here.
Our nation owes a debt of gratitude to the brave men and women who have served our country. At the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), we work day in and day out on programs to serve our nation’s veterans as they look to start or grow a business. Today, I’m excited to kick off Veterans Small Business Week, being held from November 4 to 11 this year in the lead up to Veterans Day on November 11.
This is an initiative on the part of the Small Business Administration to reach out to veteran entrepreneurs and business owners. During Veterans Small Business Week, SBA staff all across the country will be working with partner organizations on educational efforts, mentoring, and trainings to make sure veterans have the tools they need to start or grow their business. We’ll be making sure veterans know about our entrepreneurship training and mentorship opportunities, and assist veteran-owned small businesses as they connect with potential customers.
Veterans Small Business Week is so exciting because it brings together so many elements of SBA’s programs and really shines a light on what makes our nation strong. Veterans are highly-skilled and highly-trained leaders in their community; it’s no wonder that after serving their countries in leadership and managerial roles veterans would bring these skills back home and choose to become entrepreneurs and small business owners. Our job at the SBA is to make sure veterans know what tools and programs are out there to help them achieve their dreams.
We’re honored to have the opportunity to serve those who have served our country. SBA provides veterans access to business counseling and training, capital, and business development opportunities through government contracts. In FY 2013, SBA supported $1.86 billion in loans for 3,094 veteran-owned small businesses. And since 2009, the dollar amount of SBA lending support to veteran-owned firms has nearly doubled.
Numbers from the U.S. Census Bureau show the strength of veterans as small business owners. Our nation’s 2.4 million veteran-owned small businesses employ almost 6 million people and generate more than $1 trillion in receipts. In the private sector, veterans are 45 percent more likely than those with no active-duty military experience to be self-employed. Supporting veterans’ small businesses is the right thing to do, and it makes economic sense.
President Obama has made it clear from his first day in office that our nation is committed to those who have served their country. They deserve the care and benefits that were promised to them. And we must make sure they are able to use their talents and training in their lives after the military. That’s why SBA has worked with Joining Forces, an initiative to serve America’s military families, and continues to help strengthen support for veteran entrepreneurship programs so that veterans have an opportunity for self-employment and small business ownership as a viable employment option.
During my time as a commercial banker, Regional Administrator for SBA, and head of SBA’s Office of Capital Access, I’ve seen first-hand the critical role SBA plays in supporting veteran-owned small businesses. But I know we can always do better. That’s why we’re focused this week and rededicating ourselves to reaching out to veterans all across the country and making sure they have the tools they need as they harness their entrepreneurial spirit.
During Veterans Small Business Week, please help spread the word that SBA is here to assist our veteran entrepreneurs and small business owners. You can do this by passing along this blog, sharing SBA’s Facebook posts and tweets about upcoming events that focus on veteran entrepreneurship, or visiting a local SBA office near you. For more information regarding veteran entrepreneurship, visit SBA.gov/veterans.
Jeanne Hulit is the Acting Small Business Administration Administrator