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Group offers spouses small business help
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WASHINGTON, Aug. 29, 2008 - Starting a business requires cold, hard cash and moral support, both of which are now available to military spouses through a Virginia-based organization.

"Military Spouse Business Association will help military spouses with the tangibles of financial and business resources and the intangibles of motivation, encouragement, support and recognition," said Lanette Lepper, a co-founder of the organization, and a military spouse who owns her own business.

The other co-founders, Joanna Williamson and Rebecca Poynter, share the same backgrounds as military spouses and small-business owners. Their idea to create the Military Spouse Business Association stemmed from phone conversations during which they discussed military life, she said.

They also talked about business and financial topics and agreed that sound financial preparation had allowed them to start their individual businesses and keep them going. The trio also agreed that even though they didn't all live in the same area, they still could share their experience with other military spouses.

"Two of us had never met each other in person, and we thought if we shared our ideas and encouragement remotely, motivating and learning from each other, then why can't other military spouses do exactly the same thing?" Lepper said. "It also occurred to us that if we wanted to find other military spouses to buy from, hire, make a friend, find a colleague or mentor in the same profession, we didn't have a way to do that."

The organization now offers military spouses who own their own businesses networking opportunities as well as financial and other resources.

The organization's Web site offers what the founders call the "Red, White and Blue Pages." It's a directory of military spouse-owned businesses, which enables military spouses to find other military spouses in their geographical or professional areas.

"The directory is also available to [members of] the general public who would like to support these military spouse-owned businesses," Lepper said.

Lepper said civilians looking to support businesses owned by military spouses should know those businesses are in good hands.

"The prototype of a military spouse might surprise you," she said. "[They're] most likely to be female, most likely to be employed, better educated than their civilian counterpart, [and they] live near a major city and are Internet-savvy."

Military Spouse Business Association is a new supporter of America Supports You, a Defense Department program connecting citizens and companies with servicemembers and their families serving at home and abroad.

Registration is temporarily closed while the organization moves its Web site. Registration should be available again Sept. 1.

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