Battlefield to Business: Women Veteran Entrepreneurs
By Christopher Lampley
While 45 percent of veterans are more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans, more attention is being placed on veteran-owned businesses.
The Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce kicked off its Fall Women Veteran Entrepreneur workshops at the Workforce Development Center on Tallahassee Community College’s campus.
There was an imperative focus on launching and improving veteran-owned businesses that are owned by women. Spectators heard testimonials on the importance of networking with one another. Besides motivating the audience to keep pursuing their dream, keynote speakers spoke volumes about the importance of building relationships.
“Today I wanted to get more of an insight on marketing my business and expanding my target audience,” Annie Bryant said. Bryant served in the United States Army for four years and served two years in the Reserves. As part owner of Divinely Connected Graphic Solutions, Bryant says that she heard about the workshops from a friend and wanted to learn more. “This is my first time at a seminar like this and I really appreciate the information that was given out today, very helpful,” she added.
The event was highlighted with a presentation by Army veteran and business owner Wanda Harris. Harris, founder and CEO of the company edifyMe, specializes in empowering and educating veteran women business owners. Harris talked to spectators for about 20 minutes chronicling her life in the military and what lead her to owning her own business.
“My inspiration came from a military veteran who appeared on Dancing With the Stars. His story touched me in an unimaginable way and I felt as if I had a bigger purpose in life than just being ex-military,” Harris said. Harris now serves as a mentor to many women who want to pursue the same career goals.
Although the event focused on women veterans, spectators with no military experience were also in attendance. Sybol Corker, a 35-year old native of Thomasville, Ga., said that this was her second time attending a seminar with the same agenda.
“I really came here for more tips on opening a business as well as some much needed motivation,” Corker said. She plans on opening a cosmetology school by 2017.
According to the Big Bend Minority Chamber of Commerce, women veterans are one of the rapidly growing populations in the United States. Florida has close to 160,000 women veterans.
Vendors at the event included Career Source Capital Regional, The U.S. Small Business Administration, Florida State University Student Veteran Center and The Collegiate Veterans Association at Florida State University. The event is the first of four events that will last through the month of November.