After retiring with 40 years of military service, Wacinque Amistad Kaizen BeMende has opened his own business through the military assistance program. The Enterpreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities was a program that was offered to BeMende after he retired. After graduating from the program he was able to start his own business aimed at empowering the impoverished.
"The stars couldn't have aligned more perfectly for me," he said.
Through the Veteran and Military Transition Center, service members are able to choose from several different career fields when they separate or retire from military service. BeMende choose EBV and started the process to getting a small business, locally. Before entering the program you must first take a 30-day online course and you can continue with a nine-day residency. After you complete the nine-day residency you can continue with a 12-month Technical Assistance Program. Both the nine-day and 12-month program are hosted at major universities throughout the U.S. BeMende was able to attend the Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business at the University of Missouri. He completed the 12-month course June 18, 2017 and went on to start his own business.
According to the EBV website, the program was designed to offer experiential training in entrepreneurship and small business management to post-9/11 veterans with service-connected disabilities. The program serves to help disabled retired veterans who have a passion for entrepreneurship as well as military family members who serve in a caregiver role. The aim of the program is to open the door to economic opportunity by developing their competencies in creating and sustaining an entrepreneurial venture. According the program's website 68 percent of their graduates have started their own business.
"It's all free," BeMende said. "It's a part of the transition program."
During BeMende's time in the military, he served in several different branches to include the Air Force and Marine Corps. During his time serving his country BeMende said he would also spend a lot of his time volunteering in organizations like United Way. Growing up he didn't have a lot of money and volunteering for these organizations helped him to realize there was a need in impoverished communities. He decided to start a consultancy business that would help impoverished families that are receiving welfare to start saving and build interest on their savings in order to reduce the amount of welfare they receive and eventually come off of the welfare system.
"I educate organizations that are helping the poor on how to do it better," he said.
He presented his business method to the New Mexico Small Business Assistance Program where representatives provided free technical assistance services that are not provided elsewhere, leveraging high performance computer systems, according to Ian Foti-Landis, individual leveraged project manager. The program analyzed the economic impacts in New Mexico by specifying cash flow for beneficiaries and the induced effects on the New Mexico economy.
BeMende will be attending a Veteran EDGE Conference hosted by EBV, Feb. 16 through 18 in Austin, Texas. There he will be competing for a business plan competition for a $100,000 prize. BeMende will also be entering the Wall Street Journal's Financial Inclusion Challenge where they look for solutions to the problems and financial access for the poor in the Asia-Pacific region.
"The timing couldn't have been more perfect for me," he said. "I can't believe my good fortune but I think it was meant to be. I feel like something was nudging me in the right direction."
BeMende said he hopes other service members looking to leave the military or retire out of the military will look into these free opportunities in the future.
"(I'm) trying to make service members aware that this choice exists," he said.
For more information, visit: https://www.careeronestop.org/Veterans/BenefitsAndAssistance/for-disabled-veterans.aspx