The Veterans Enterprise Training & Services Group, was organized as a nonprofit, 501(c)3 organization to: (1) Assist, foster, and promote enterprises that create entrepreneurial, procurement, and employment opportunities; (2) Provide community outreach, business development, technical assistance, training, mentoring, counseling, and other supportive services; (3) Create agency relationships which will alleviate discrimination, remove barriers, and lessen the burdens of government, especially within the federal marketplace; and (4) Advance the provisions of decent, safe, affordable housing, health care, education, and rehabilitation (mental, physical, and incarceration) for persons of limited means; seeking to start, expand, or purchase their own business.
These activities are primarily directed toward veterans of the U.S. military, their families, the National Guard, Reserves, members of the active military pending retirement or discharge, veterans disabled in or after service, and people with severe disabilities.
The VETS Group was created in 2004, while organizing the D.C. Chapter of the National Association for Black Veterans (NABVETS) and in direct response to the need identified by Congress, that America had not done enough to ensure that its veterans were sharing in the American dream of entrepreneurship. Congress felt so strongly about it that in 1999, they unanimously passed the Veterans Entrepreneurship and Small Business Development Act (Public Law 106-50). And when that wasn’t enough, they later passed the Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 (Public Law 108-183). Those laws along with President Bush’s Executive Order (#13-360, issued October 2004), directs each Federal Agency and each Prime Contractor to procure a minimum of 3% of all of their goods and services from service disabled veteran owned businesses. That equates to millions of government dollars per year to veterans, their families, and their communities!
In order to ensure that veterans interested in starting, expanding or purchasing their own small businesses are made award of procurement opportunities and that they receive business development services, which generally are not offered by traditional Veterans Service Organizations, the VETS Group has developed a program to provide outreach, support, training, advocacy and technical services. In addition, the VETS Group will host networking events to obtain support, exposure, information, business opportunities, and ideas from entrepreneurs, local, state, and federal agencies, private and public organizations. Such events will include small business workshops, press-media events, speakers’ breakfasts, receptions, and discussion groups.
The VETS Group Program is centered around the The FastTrac Planning and New Venture curriculums, as developed by the Ewing Marion Kaufman Foundation. This model brings together expert facilitators, content experts and successful entrepreneurs from the local community to act as co-instructors and mentors for program participants.
The FastTrac New Venture module focuses on the entrepreneur, the market, competition, and product profitability analysis of new venture ideas (and helps the participant determine if a business idea is strong enough to pursue). The FastTracä Planning module, focuses on all facets of growing a business, from legal structure and management team to exit strategy. Both programs offer instruction as well as practical hands-on training.
The VETS Group has organized a coalition of advisors made up of a diverse group of entrepreneurs, business consultants, organizational and agency representatives. Thei main function of the advisors is to keep abreast of current business trends and to recommend improvements to the program. More specifically, advisory board members participate in the following:
a. Strategic planning for program events;
In addition, the VETS Group also administers comprehensive training sessions on business planning, federal contracting, GSA/8a certifications, franchising, accounting, legal services, partnerships, and more. And relationships are established with businesses and organizations to serve as Resource Partners, who will provide technical assistance, counseling, mentoring, and other supportive services for our veteran entrepreneurs on an ongoing basis.