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Business program at Memorial University helps Canadian veterans become entrepreneurs

ST. JOHN’S, NL: Prince’s Trust Canada, a national charity established by HRH The Prince of Wales, has started its seven-day business training program for veterans and transitioning Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, N.L.

The week-long business boot camp, which began on Sunday, July 14, is part of The Trust’s Operation Entrepreneur program. The program provides business education to transitioning CAF members and veterans, helping military members embark on their second careers to start their own businesses and create economic and social impacts in their communities.

Participants arrive to boot camp with a developed business idea and learn best practices in marketing, finance, business planning and accounting from faculty members at Memorial’s Faculty of Business Administration. They participate in networking events and mentoring forums with local entrepreneurs who share their experience and get one-on-one coaching from Enactus Memorial undergraduate student volunteers.

The program was first piloted in 2008 by Enactus Memorial (a group of undergraduate students who enable community progress through entrepreneurial action). After its initial success, Prince’s Trust Canada expanded the boot camp to three other universities and have been leading the program since 2011, helping launch over 370 businesses across Canada.

Christine McNeil, from Lower Island Cove, N.L. is one of the 19 participants in this year’s boot camp. After serving 12 years in the Canadian military, she plans to open a “meals on wheels” type of business, providing hot, cold and freezable ready-made meals to the elderly, those with mobility or medical issues, and those with specific nutritional requirements.

“Now that I’m retired, I’d like to put my military education, skills and leadership abilities to use and continue helping others and contributing to my community through my business,” she said.

McNeil is looking forward to gaining new skills and tools to help launch her business and is “excited to meet and network with other entrepreneurial veterans like myself who have also chosen business ownership as the next phase of their transition to civilian life.”

“At the end of the week, these military members will be ready to start their second careers,” said Prof. Lynn Morrissey, an assistant professor at the business faculty and faculty advisor for Enactus Memorial. “At Memorial, we are proud to support military members’ transition to civilian life. We are thrilled with the success of the program over the past 11 years, having provided participants with the skills and confidence they need to succeed in business.”

In addition to the seven-day boot camp, Prince’s Trust Canada provides programming and supports all along the entrepreneurial spectrum.

“We provide a range of services from one-day introductory workshops to these intensive business boot camps to networking events and mentoring,” said Sharon Broughton, chief executive officer of Prince’s Trust Canada. “Providing these services helps ensure our veterans and military members, many of whom are medically released, have everything they need for a successful transition. The program increases hope and confidence for a future that may have felt very uncertain.”