As a Marine combat engineer with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, John Gibson’s job was to identify improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and mines, place and clear obstacles, lay out concertina wire and build bunkers. This essential, physical and tactile combat…
IVMF Entrepreneurship Program Brings More Than 100 Participants to Buffalo, Welcomes New York State Lieutenant Governor
More than 100 women veterans and military spouses from around the country gathered recently in Buffalo for training as part of Syracuse University’s Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) 22nd program.
Developed by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF), the V-WISE program provides education, supportive services and resources to women veterans and female military spouses/life partners who aspire to launch and grow their own small business. V-WISE Buffalo marked the program’s first instance in Western New York. To date, more than 3,000 women have received cost-free business ownership training through the V-WISE program, and 70 percent go on to launch a new business after completing the training.
The Buffalo program kicked off with a speech from Syracuse University alumna and New York State Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul ’80. “Women veterans have a strong sense of duty and are risk takers—essential skills needed for aspiring small business owners,” Hochul said. “As a Syracuse grad, I’m so proud the University has helped over 3,500 women become entrepreneurs.”
The program continued with a V-WISE tradition of recognizing the accomplishments of women who are exemplars for all those in attendance. During the kick-off dinner launching three days of intense training and networking, the women of V-WISE Buffalo honored Lynda Davis, chief veterans experience officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs and retired Maj. Gen. Dee McWilliams as V-WISE “Trailbreakers” before the evening concluded with a lively performance by former contestants on the hit show “The Voice,” pop two-some OneUp.
The V-WISE participants benefited from more than 25 training sessions and four keynote speakers, taking lessons from the experiences of the more than a dozen educators, instructors and successful entrepreneurs. In addition to the training, participants found connection, common ground and support from their fellow entrepreneurs—a benefit that has become synonymous with the V-WISE event.
“It’s ironic my 34th enlistment anniversary coincided with the V-WISE Buffalo weekend,” said Robin Le-Roy Kyle, Navy veteran and V-Wise participant. “For the first time, I found a sisterhood among my fellow woman veterans and military spouses.”
Attendees also had the opportunity to showcase their businesses; practice and receive feedback on pitching their venture to potential partners, lenders and investors; and engage successful entrepreneurs in discussions related to the obstacles and challenges associated with business ownership.
“Military spouses/partners and women veterans routinely demonstrate the resilience, passion and perseverance needed to be a successful entrepreneur,” said J. Michael Haynie, Syracuse University vice chancellor for strategic initiatives and innovation and founder/executive director of the IVMF. “Those in attendance in Buffalo were no exception. It is an honor to be part of their journey and support them as they work to achieve their own American dream.”
V-WISE is part of the IVMF’s ARSENAL initiative, a portfolio of nine national entrepreneurship programs, offered to veterans, service members and their families through the institute. Syracuse University’s IVMF also manages programs in career preparation and community support, as well as critical qualitative and quantitative research for the University and industry-leading organizations.