Military spouses are resourceful, creative, and resilient – characteristics that make great entrepreneurs. Small business ownership can be a transportable, flexible option that complements a military career and there is an abundance of resources to help military spouse business owners at any stage of entrepreneurship.
This July, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) launched a new program to help military spouses better access employment by becoming their own boss.
The SBA's Military Spouse Pathway to Business program offers free training to military spouses on key elements of entrepreneurship, including market research, economics, legal considerations, and finances. Attendees will connect with the many resources available to help military spouse business owners raise capital, receive technical assistance, earn contracting opportunities, and find local mentors.
This new program supports the White House Executive Order 14100, which aims to strengthen economic opportunity for military and veteran spouses, caregivers, and survivors.
"At the SBA, we are investing in our veterans and military families by creating pathways to entrepreneurial success to ensure they can be a part of the small business boom that has helped spur job creation and innovation across the nation," the agency's Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman said in a recent press release.
Owning a small business helps military spouses secure a job that relocates with them. This transportability eases the challenge for military families who struggle to find employment after moving with their active-duty service member partner, accommodating childcare needs, or potentially living apart from their spouses. The unemployment rate for military spouses is ten times higher than for veterans, meaning employment programs like Pathway and VA's Veteran and Military Spouse Talent Engagement can be critical resources for military families.
Employment is also a health issue. Research indicates that employment can be considered a "social determinant of health" because it directly impacts issues like mental health. However, a military family's ability to achieve financial security also impacts their access to critical needs like housing and adequate nutrition, which also affect health outcomes.
SBA's new Pathway to Business program builds upon the agency's existing Boots to Business program series, which offers free entrepreneurship training to service members, veterans, military spouses, and National Guard or Reserve members. More than 188,000 people have taken a Boots to Business course since 2017, though military spouses have remained a minority among the participants.
"Military spouses have been and are still encouraged to attend those programs," explains Timothy Green, Acting Associate Administrator for the SBA's Office of Veterans Business Development. "However, the Military Spouse Pathway to Business program gives military spouses a dedicated curriculum, peer group, and schedule that may be better suited for them."
"America's military spouses have served our country, and the SBA is ready to support them with customized programs and layered support resources so they can pursue their dreams of business ownership," said Administrator Guzman.
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the Federal Government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.