Happy Veterans Day!
This year we are privileged to have an interview with Nell Merlino, the founder of Take Our Daughters and Sons To Work Day, who has created a new initiative especially for women business owners who are veterans, the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC). Nell tells us about it, and how you can participate, in our interview with her below.
Nell, thanks for agreeing to this interview. Can you tell us what the WVEC initiative is?
Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC) is a three-year business growth initiative for women business owners who are veterans or spouses/domestic partners of veterans looking to grow their small businesses quickly and sustainably and significantly contribute to the growth of local economies and create new jobs.
WVEC was developed by Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence with generous support from Capital One.
What gave you the idea for The Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps?
Based on Count Me In’s vast experience in helping thousands of women business owners grow, the program will combine a proven mix of confidence building, business coaching, and community support to help these women significantly contribute to the growth of local economies and create new jobs. Research shows that there is a need for more programs and policies designed to foster entrepreneurship for veterans during career transition. Also, women veterans are the fastest growing veteran population second only to aging veterans.
How can business owners support WVEC?
Other business owners can support WVEC by help women prepare for the November 2013 WEVC Event,
CMI will host a series of FREE Pitch Parties September through November 2013 in select cities across Texas and the US for interested business owners. Make sure to check our website for dates, times and locations. At these events, participating women can:
- Practice their two-minute business pitch and receive expert feedback from CMI-trained experts on how to make it work best for growing their business
- Network with other women veteran entrepreneurs to foster a community of motivation and support
- Learn more about the WVEC event, business growth program, and related opportunities
Why the focus on building businesses rather than employment?
Everyone want options and opportunities. Not every military affiliated woman wants or is able to maintain a regular job-a 9 to 5-based on their skills, lifestyle and/or choice. Being an entrepreneur and having a business of their own that they can take with them is often a better alternative.
What’s WVEC’s primary goal for 2013?
The overall goal of WVEC is to help strengthen women entrepreneurs by providing the tools and support system needed to be sustainable assets in their communities that will help them contribute to job creation and economic activity, as well as fostering financial stability within their own households.
In 2013 our main goal was to truly understand, connect and build relationships with the military community to best be able to serve them. You have to meet people where they are at and help them build upon their knowledge and experience from that point forward.
What’s next for WVEC and how can we stay updated?
Count Me In and Capital One are pleased to announce the second Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC) Conference and Competition, an exciting new business growth initiative for women business owners.
WVEC is now open to ALL women business owners, especially those who are veterans, spouses/domestic partners, or daughters of veterans. Looking to grow your small businesses quickly and sustainably? Ready to create new jobs and contribute to economic growth in your community? Join us November 18th & 19th, and become part of this exciting new movement!
I was also told you are the founder of “Take Our Daughters to Work” day – would you share the story behind that with us? What gave you the idea and how did you get it to become so popular?
In 1992, the Ms. Foundation for Women asked me, to create an event to help raise young women’s self-esteem. The result: Take Our Daughters to Work Day. “I wanted girls to have the same learning experience I did with my father visiting his office.”
Thirteen years after creating Take Our Daughters to Work Day, I established Make Mine a Million $ Business (M3), a program that is part of Count Me In, an organization I founded in 1999. M3 challenges women to grow their businesses to the million-dollar mark—and provides resources to help them get there. M3 sponsors meetings and competitions around the country in which participants give a 2-minute pitch to explain their business objective.