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A new bootcamp is preparing women veterans for entrepreneurship

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs and Tysons-based PenFed Credit Union Foundation teamed up to create a four-month accelerator program. It'll close out with a $15K pitch competiton this fall.

A team at work. (Photo by Visual Tag Mx via Pexels)

In collaboration with the US Department of Veteran Affairs (VA), the Tysons, Virginia-based PenFed Foundation is launching a new bootcamp accelerator program for women veteran entrepreneurs.

Women veterans interested in starting a business from 29 different states will participate in the four-month program, which culminates in an October pitch competition. The pitch winner will receive a $15,000 grant from PenFed to help grow their business, with $10,000 and $5,000 grants for second and third place, respectively. The bootcamp follows the foundation’s Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program, which launched in April of 2018 and offered seed investments to women vets.

“It’s important we provide an environment where women entrepreneurs can receive strategic and deliberate education, empowerment, engagement and access to enhance their businesses,” said Sharon Ridley, executive director of the VA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization, in a statement. “Through entrepreneurship, women veterans have an opportunity to leverage their military and leadership skills to increase and create economic opportunities.

The 80 women participants are taking part this summer in classes on relationship-building, product and market analysis, pitching and scaling a business. In small groups, the women also get coaching from industry representatives, including leaders at AstraZeneca, Halfaker & Associates and OptumServe. Participants are verified by the VA’s Center for Verification and Evaluation before participating, and have five years of experience in the industry with past roles as either a prime or subcontractor.

“We have a shared goal: to empower women veterans and create access to capital and systems to support them,” said PenFed Foundation President John Nicholson Jr. in a statement. “We believe in creating a business ecosystem that establishes service in the U.S. military as the most reliable pathway to successful entrepreneurship.”

Here are the local participants:

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