Thousands of veterans are coming home from lengthy tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Bureau of Labor Statics is reporting a 7.2% jobless rate among post 9/11 veterans alone, compared to the country’s average rate of veteran unemployment of 5.8%. As CEO and Co-Founder of Budget Blinds, I wanted to help. Many of our founders have personal connections to the U.S. Armed Forces as do our franchisees across the country.
As business owners, we wanted to give veterans a fresh start. Many times I have needed help throughout my personal and professional life. My brothers and I were raised by a single mother, and she struggled to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table. In college I waited tables at night and went to class day and night.
As a result, I wanted to set up a program to give back by helping our veterans.
Entrepreneurs can help in the following ways:
1. Create a “Give-Back” program.
In 2015, Budget Blinds is launching a program called “Troops in Transition” which provides veterans that have left active duty within the past two years an opportunity to become a franchisee with no initial entry fee. The program was developed as a way to further help our country’s heroes achieve their dream of independent ownership. Specifically, post 9/11 veterans are suffering the most with unemployment and this is our way to give back to them. The program removes the barrier of coming up with the up-front money it would traditionally take to buy into a franchise and instead gives veterans the opportunity to potentially start earning a living. Because no loan needs to be repaid, any immediate sales/ profit made are theirs. After a six-month evaluation period, if veterans in the program have met financial milestones, they will be brought on board as traditional Budget Blinds franchisee.
“Troops in Transition” is an extension of our existing Million Dollar Franchise Event, which is a commitment to providing $1 million dollars in discounts to U.S. veterans interested in purchasing one of our franchise brands, Budget Blinds or Tailored Living. To date, we have given more than $800,000 in discounts between both brands. Although we foresee reaching our million-dollar goal in early 2015, we've decided to extend this offer throughout the remainder of 2015.
2. Partner with a non-profit.
2015 also marks a special partnership between Budget Blinds and national non-profit, Homes for Our Troops (HFOT). HFOT builds specially adapted, mortgage-free homes for veterans that were severely injured while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan. Through this partnership, Budget Blinds will provide window coverings in every home built by HFOT over the next three years. We will also be working with Springs Manufacturing to launch a month of giving back in May of 2015 which will help us reach our goal of one million dollars in product and cash donations to HFOT throughout our partnership.
Most immediately, we will provide window coverings in 10 specially adapted homes across the country between November 1 and December 31, 2014 as a part of HFOT’s “Homes for the Holidays” series. These homes provide veterans and their families with a warm and welcoming environment just in time for the holiday season.
The American Dream is alive. Entrepreneurs are keeping it alive. In many ways, veterans are the heart and soul of this country. We can show our support with programs like Troops in Transition, the Million Dollar Franchise Event or with a simple thank you and pat on the shoulder.