FGCU Veterans Entrepreneurship Program


Photo courtesy of Public Domain Pictures

Gracie Burgess, Staff Writer

Across campus, FGCU has been showing support to Veterans who honorably served in the United States Armed Forces. The Veterans Florida Entrepreneurship Program has helped dozens of Veterans launch their own business. At the time of writing, over 200 Veterans have gone through the program with 140 of them launching successful businesses.

“It is a 12-week program for all honorably discharged Veterans who live in the state of Florida and plan on starting a business in the state,” Program Coordinator Troy Bolivar said. “They don’t have to be students at FGCU, the program is open to all Veterans.”

The program gives Veterans a space where they are able to work with other Veterans and establish their business. Those who sign up for the program can learn how to start a business from scratch, how to finish creating a business or build on an existing one.

“Everyone comes in at different stages,” Bolivar said. “We start off at the very beginning with understanding who their target customer is, and what their niche space is going to be. For the first month, we really hit hard on that.”

Omolade Kolawole is a U.S. Navy Veteran who is in the program. His business, Mo’Laide LLC, is a delivery service that focuses on items sold through community exchanges such as Facebook Marketplace.

“Through our business, I hope to bring a sense of safety and calm to the community marketplace, bring jobs to SWFL and other cities across the country, and to hire Veterans,” Kolawole said.

Kolawole heard about the entrepreneurship program through word of mouth. The program has mentors and speakers come in and present ideas to help encourage those in the program. Bolivar believes this program is about more than just assisting Veterans in starting up a business. He believes that a big part of the program is promoting mental health, helping Veterans grow personally and allowing them to check in on each other.

“I encourage people to build relationships with other Veterans,” Bolivar said. “I’ve seen a lot of Veterans that struggle with mental health, and I feel like I try to build a relationship with every Veteran that goes through the program because I care.”

Veterans that are a part of the program have been able create uplifting connections with other veterans and with the staff.

“This program has offered me unquantifiable value,” Kolawole said. “From providing a community of Vets, to connections with subject matter experts, to insights on entrepreneurship must-haves and pitfalls to avoid.”