Veterans in the North East of England are being invited to participate in a pilot programme to help them set up their own businesses.

Led by the North East BIC, Veterans RV is a 12-week programme aimed at helping veterans explore how they can use their vast experience and skills to become their own boss.

Offering free one-to-one support, expert workshops and networking opportunities, the programme will initially seek to recruit up to 20 veterans to join its first cohort this Summer.

The North East BIC has helped over 4,000 people set up a business since its inception in 1994, but Veterans RV will be the first programme set up to solely support veterans.

The initiative is the brainchild of former veterans turned business advisers, Anthony McDermott and Mark Walsh, both of whom have set up their own businesses since making the transition to civilian life.

Anthony said: “People who have served in the forces develop so many skills that can be transferable to the world of business, from leadership and teamwork to practical skills that are hugely sought after by consumers and businesses.

“But, because of the little support on offer to help veterans understand how they could use those skills to be successful entrepreneurs, we don’t see anywhere near as many people make the leap into self-employment as we should do.

“This is why we’ve launched Veterans RV, a programme designed by veterans, for veterans, that will allow them to realise their full potential by making the most of those diverse skillsets that so often make them the best people to set up and grow businesses.”

After a career in the military, civilian life can feel like hostile territory. Yet recent research by YouGov revealed that veterans are equipped with a unique combination of skills and experience that are easily transferrable into business and are highly sought after by employers.

YouGov’s report, commissioned by the Office for Veterans’ Affairs, asked more than 12,000 members of the public, as well as employers, healthcare professionals and members of the media across of the UK about their perceptions of armed forces veterans.

The study, which will help shape future policy initiatives, showed that 71% of employers believed that veterans have a strong work ethic, whilst a vast majority of fellow employees said that veterans are resilient and would welcome working alongside them.

Mark added: “Having served for nine years in the Royal Navy, I have a real passion for helping former armed services personnel to flourish either in employment or running their own business, so it’s been great working with Anthony and the wider BIC team on this project.

“As someone who has ran my own business upon leaving the forces, I know just how daunting a prospect it can be, which is why programmes like this, which are informal and designed with veterans in mind, are key to breaking down the barriers to self-employment and helping our veterans seamlessly re-integrate to civvy street.”

To find out more about Veterans RV 2023 or to book your place on the pilot programme, visit: https://www.ne-bic.co.uk/starting-your-business/veterans-rv/