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Military transition business boot camp celebrates its 10th anniversary

Program helps transitioning members of the Canadian Armed Forces start their own businesses

ST. JOHN’S, July 16, 2018: Prince’s Operation Entrepreneur (POE), a program of Prince’s Charities Canada, started its seven-day business boot camp for transitioning Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) members at Memorial University of Newfoundland in St. John’s, N.L. yesterday.

POE provides business education to transitioning CAF members and veterans. The program helps military members embarking on their second careers to start their own businesses and create economic and social impacts in their communities. Initially developed in 2008 as Based in Business by Enactus Memorial (a group of undergraduate students from Memorial who enable progress through entrepreneurial action), the seven-day boot camp is now in its tenth year.

Community and student collaboration are key components of the boot camp experience. Throughout the week, professors at Memorial University, on a volunteer basis, share their expertise and industry knowledge in the classroom. Undergraduate students from Enactus Memorial are paired with participants to help develop and craft their business plans. Strong community support comes from local entrepreneurs who share their experience at networking events and workshops.

“At the end of the week, these military members will be ready to start their second careers,” said Prof. Lynn Morrissey, an assistant professor in the Faculty of Business Administration responsible for the genesis of the program as well as managing training for the week. “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 10 years having provided participants with the skills and confidence they need to succeed in business.”

Leendert Bolle, a sergeant in the Special Forces who was released from the military after 16 years of service, attended the boot camp at Memorial in 2014. He is now the owner of Hero Dog Treats, a successful dog food company he started following his release. “Hands down, the POE boot camp is absolutely the best training, experience and networking opportunity for military veterans seeking to become entrepreneurs,” he said.

Donald Hookey from Conception Bay South, NL is one of 20 participants in this year’s boot camp. After serving 16 years in the Canadian Army, he plans to open a home-based bookkeeping and income tax business. “Being a veteran entrepreneur allows me to put some of my military skills to work in a civilian atmosphere,” said Mr. Hookey. “I’m super excited to participate in the boot camp program. I’m hoping to gain some insight into the way the business world works in real life and maybe get a few of my unanswered questions answered.”

POE is the only program of its kind in Canada. “The program reaches more veterans each year and its impact is priceless. It increases hope and confidence for a future that may have felt very uncertain,” said Sharon Broughton, CEO of Prince’s Charities Canada. “Graduates have gone on to start over 250 businesses in every sector, in communities all across the country.”