Oklahoma State University’s School of Entrepreneurship and Riata Center for Entrepreneurship were selected to receive a $100,000 Service Disabled Veteran Entrepreneurship Training Program grant awarded by the U.S. Small Business Administration.
The grant assists in providing entrepreneurial training to service-disabled veterans interested in starting or growing a small business. The 12-month grant will aid the Riata Center’s Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP), which is offered completely free to veterans accepted into the program. The “boot camp” program builds on elements of OSU’s entrepreneurship curriculum and helps veterans develop business ideas to implement into their business models.
“Our primary objective is to provide high-quality entrepreneurial education and training to veterans as a means to business ownership and financial independence,” said Alexces Bartley, manager of outreach programs for the Riata Center. “Funding from grants such as this one from the SBA are absolutely essential for the continuation of this program, as the program is free to any veteran accepted into the VEP.”
OSU’s VEP program has accepted and graduated just under 400 delegates throughout its seven years of existence. In its most recent survey, an average of 42 percent of past participants reported having launched a revenue-earning business, and participants with existing businesses have reported increased sales, new customers and a greater sense of purpose. VEP continues to exhibit continued growth in the number of service-disabled veterans who are accepted to the program.
“What a great team we have,” said Craig Watters, executive director for the Riata Center. “VEP has become a cornerstone of our outreach program, and we strive to make it better every year. Each year, we are humbled by the generosity of donors who find our program worthy of their tremendous support. We and our consortium make it all possible as we give back to those who have served in the name of freedom.”
The SDVETP grant funding competition was open to eligible institutions of higher learning, private organizations or businesses, non-profit community-based organizations, state, local or tribal governmental agencies and non-profit organizations.