New business plan: turn veterans into entrepreneurs

VeteransThe College of Business Administration will offer a free entrepreneurship program for veterans next fall.

The nondegree certificate program, called Veterans2Ventures, will begin with a pilot program spring semester.

“While there are many resources available to returning veterans, there is no university-based entrepreneurship program serving Chicago today that combines the academic foundation, immersive campus and community experience, and the sustained engagement and mentoring that we can offer at UIC,” said Michael Mikhail, dean of the College of Business Administration.

Veterans2Ventures offers an opportunity “to learn from the best, get experienced advice while launching their business, and participate in a supportive student and alumni community,” said Maija Renko, associate professor of entrepreneurship and the program’s faculty adviser.

Working with the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs, the UIC business faculty “saw firsthand the need for a more comprehensive program for the veterans who bring entrepreneurial passion, leadership skills honed in the military, and an appetite to accomplish something significant in their community,” said Denise Ching, director of Illinois Small Business Development at UIC, the community outreach arm of the Institute for Entrepreneurial Studies.

Rodrigo Garcia, assistant director of the Illinois Department of Veterans’ Affairs and a UIC business graduate, said the UIC program complements initiatives at the state agency.

Mikhail said Veterans2Ventures will be a valuable addition to the educational and support services already offered by UIC and the UIC Office of Student Veterans Affairs.

“We look forward to working with veteran associations as well as Chicago business and civic leaders to make this program a real asset for veterans and the communities to which they return,” he said.

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