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Fordham University in New York is to give US and UK military veterans the opportunity to learn how to start their own businesses. The university’s Graduate School of Business Administration and the School of Professional and Continuing Studies will launch a veterans-focused entrepreneur training programme in both London and New York in early 2014.

Each of the first two cohorts, which will launch consecutively in the first half of 2014, will enrol between 15 and 20 participants from both the US and the UK, says David Gautschi, dean of the business school and himself a former Marine and veteran of Vietnam. He expects between 40 and 80 ex-military to attend the programme in its first year.

The eight-month programme, which will combine campus-based teaching with distance learning, will kick off with a business basics programme followed by a month-long project working with disadvantaged people through a charity or NGO. The project is intended to demonstrate that “the people who are in real need are not just the people they left behind in Afghanistan or Iraq,” says Prof Gautschi.

The veterans will then work in small teams to research a business idea, where they will have access to mentors and business leaders, followed by a presentation of the business projects to business people and potential investors.

Prof Gautschi says the link between the US and UK military was intended to build on the “special relationship” between the two countries. But he adds, “This is probably the first time these two allies have functioned in this way, with integrated courses.”

Applicants for the programme are expected to be in their twenties and have graduated high school or the equivalent. They should also be motivated to start their own business, says Prof Gautschi. He is working with veterans groups in both the US and UK to get the word out.

The eight-month programme is priced at $5,000, with additional costs underwritten by Fordham’s business school community.

With the exception of the social needs project, much of the material for the programme has been sourced from the business school’s existing teaching in entrepreneurship. Prof Gautschi says those who complete the programme will receive a certificate, but there are also plans to enable participants to use the courses as a stepping stone to degree courses at the university.

The first programme will be run at the Jesuit Heythrop College in Central London, and the second in central New York.

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