VA officials start mentoring for veteran-owned small businesses

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To help small businesses owned by service-disabled veterans and other veteran-owned small businesses become more competitive in the marketplace, Department of Veterans Affairs officials have selected 20 mentor-protégé teams to participate in a new program.

"For VA, it's a natural goal to award government contracts to qualified veteran-owned small businesses," Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. "Not only does it benefit the veteran entrepreneur, but VA gets the contractor support it needs more quickly and with less risk. All veterans win by getting better services from VA."

The program commits participating firms to agreements of up to 36 months in which mentoring firms provide business assistance in various skill areas and foster long-term business relationships with their veteran-owned protégé firms. The mentor and protégé firms will prepare their own agreements.

VA officials selected the teams based on their assessment of small businesses owned by veterans and the ability of potential mentoring firms to offer help with development.

Small-business specialists in VA's Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization reviewed the agreements formed by the participants. The mentoring firms are not necessarily veteran-owned. Their mentoring can benefit the protégé firms if VA officials evaluate them in bidding for future contracts or subcontracts.

VA officials said they plan to select five more pairs of mentor and protégé firms next month. They will select additional mentor-protégé teams next August and approximately every six months thereafter.

More information on the new program can be found at