Oklahoma State University is now accepting applications for its annual program helping disabled veterans launch and grow their own businesses.
The Veterans with Disabilities Entrepreneurship Program, or VEP, is an entrepreneurial training program designed to empower veterans by providing them critical resources to turn their business ideas into workable business models, helping them create companies and sustainable ventures.
“The VEP targets disabled vets who we know have more difficulty in accessing resources and networks when starting ventures, creating higher barriers to success. Yet, they succeed at a higher rate. We also make the program available to service distinguished veterans as a way to say thanks for all they have done,” said Michael Morris, OSU professor and N. Malone Mitchell Chair in Entrepreneurship, who founded and directs the VEP.
The VEP is presented each year by the Riata Center for Entrepreneurship and School of Entrepreneurship in the Spears School of Business at Oklahoma State University. The yearlong program offers a three-phase, hands-on learning opportunity. Participants complete an online self-study session and an intense eight-day on-campus boot camp conducted by world-class entrepreneurship educators and successful entrepreneurs, which is followed by 10 months of mentoring and support from the Tulsa Rotary and volunteer entrepreneurs.
The VEP – transportation, accommodations, books, food and instruction – is provided free of charge to accepted applicants. OSU alumni and supporters have rallied around the program and donated thousands of dollars to help make VEP possible each year.
“I believe we owe it to these veterans who have paid such a high price to serve our country,” said Morris, who is a veteran himself. “The whole idea is to empower veterans and to show them a path forward that centers on entrepreneurship and creating their own futures.”
Winston Dixon, a VEP graduate, formed American Correctional Healthcare and has successfully negotiated several contracts with the Federal Bureau of Prisons or Corrections Corporation of America to provide comprehensive healthcare and related administrative services to prison populations. Winston says this is a platform for him to grow his business. Winston says the VEP provided him with a broader perspective and many of the daily tools necessary to market and run a business.
“The VEP Program provided me with additional business knowledge and ideas well beyond my previous level of experience and understanding,” he said. “The training materials are excellent resources that we still utilize to work through the realities of building and managing a business. The support by the VEP faculty, staff and the follow-on mentor program has also proven beneficial for our business. The program helped ensure our success. It is truly outstanding and I highly recommend it!”
Applications for the 2012-2013 VEP are available online at VEP.okstate.edu. Applications are due by October 1, 2012.
To make a donation, visit the same website VEP.okstate.edu, or contact Michael Morris at 405-744-5357.