The 26th Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) conference, hosted by Syracuse University’s D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) in Jacksonville, Florida, marked a significant milestone in supporting women military-connected entrepreneurs. This event, part of a biannual series, saw its largest turnout yet with over 190 participants. These women, either veterans themselves or military spouses, gathered to expand their entrepreneurial skills and networks. The conference began with a three-week online course covering the fundamentals of entrepreneurship, culminating in a three-day event filled with in-depth discussions and panel sessions.
Merryl Tengesdal, a distinguished speaker at the event, expressed her enthusiasm retrospectively, “I was honored and excited to have been given the opportunity to speak at #VWISEJAX on 29 Sep. This event provided a unique platform for women military-connected business owners to connect, network, and grow together. I couldn’t wait to share my experiences and insights with fellow entrepreneurs, as we embarked on this inspiring journey of entrepreneurship.” Her participation underscored the event’s focus on sharing real-world experiences and fostering a supportive community for women entrepreneurs.
The conference addressed specific challenges faced by women in the entrepreneurial landscape, particularly those with a military background. According to the IVMF’s 2022 National Survey of Military Affiliated Entrepreneurs, female veteran entrepreneurs often struggle with a lack of mentors and limited exposure to fellow business owners. V-WISE effectively tackled these issues by providing a platform for mentorship and relationship-building. Tiffany Jones, a program coordinator for the IVMF, and Elizabeth Wimer, Assistant Teaching Professor at the Whitman School of Management, played pivotal roles in the event’s success, with Wimer delivering a notable presentation on creative problem-solving.
Looking ahead, V-WISE is set to continue its mission of empowering female veteran entrepreneurs with its next conference scheduled for April 2024 in Atlanta, Georgia. This event not only equips participants with essential business skills but also creates a unique environment for networking and camaraderie, crucial for success in the entrepreneurial world. For those interested in joining this growing community, more information is available on the IVMF’s website for Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship.