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Facebook UK boosts veterans with the digital skills to launch their own businesses

Facebook UK boosts veterans with the digital skills to launch their own businesses


08 Jul, 2019

Facebook UK has provided more than 300 Armed Forces veterans with digital skills

Facebook UK has provided more than 300 Armed Forces veterans with digital skills training at the Boost with Facebook for the Armed Forces Community event in London – a half-day series of panel discussions and training sessions to launch Facebook’s commitment to supporting the UK veteran community.

Read a blog post on the event here.

Tapping in to veterans’ entrepreneurial spirit

While 14,000 people leave the Armed Forces every year, on average during the past four years just 2% of veterans started businesses, despite having key skills like discipline, leadership and lateral thinking, which make for great entrepreneurs.

Working with charity partners Heropreneurs and X-Forces to provide veterans with the digital skills that will help them start businesses and use those skills, this is part of Facebook UK’s wider support for the ex-Forces community, where it has recently signed the Armed Forces Covenant – a pledge to ensure ex-military personnel are provided with equal opportunities.

Lieutenant General Richard Nugee, Chief of Defence People, Ministry of Defence, comments: ‘It is an honour to be signing the Armed Forces Covenant with Facebook, which is taking great steps not only to ensure veterans are supported in the workplace, but that the wider community of Armed Forces personnel can access digital skills training to help them achieve their entrepreneurial ambitions.’

Supporting small businesses is something Facebook feels strongly about, having invested more than US$1 billion to help local businesses grow and people find jobs. It has also committed to training 1 million people by 2020 with new digital skills through in-person events like this one, online training, and partnerships with local and national organisations.

In addition, it recently launched Boost with Facebook – a one-stop shop for small businesses, job seekers and community leaders to find the resources and training they need to thrive in the digital economy. That’s because when small businesses grow and hire, communities benefit too, which is what Boost with Facebook is all about.

Says Andy Mihalop, Facebook marketing program lead EMEA, and former veteran: ‘Being in the military was a massively formative part of my life, and I owe a lot of my success to the skills and traits I developed serving in the Forces. I’m really proud to be a part of this event and of the work Facebook is doing to support veterans through digital skills training and supportive workplace practices.’

Steve Hatch, Facebook managing director for Northern Europe continues: ‘It has been a great privilege to hear the inspiring stories of the many veterans we have worked with on this programme, who have either set up their own businesses since leaving the Armed Forces or are looking to get started on their own entrepreneurial journey. I am immensely proud to be signing the Armed Forces Covenant, and want to thank the UK’s veteran community for their service on behalf of everyone here at Facebook.’

Shining a spotlight on digital-first veteran-founded businesses

The Boost with Facebook for the Armed Forces Community event celebrated some incredible ex-Forces personnel who have set up successful businesses on their return to civilian life. One of these is Michael Coates, co-founder of Combat Pest Control … 

Michael Coates, co-founder of Combat Pest Control, host of the award-winning Declassified podcast, military veteran and former fire-fighter

Following six years with the British Army, including service in Iraq, Michael was compelled to help the friends and peers he met suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2015, he co-founded Combat Pest Control, a London-based pest control company that employs veterans, reservists and spouses. 

To date, the company’s work has provided support to educate to more than 3,000 children in conflict-affected areas, and Michael’s award-winning Declassified podcast has broken the silence on difficult subjects by sharing military stories; it has had more than 110,000 downloads and was nominated for Best Interview Podcast in the 2019 British podcast awards.

When Michael set up Combat Pest Control he didn’t know how to build a website, but Facebook’s tools for businesses were easy to use, and he was quickly able to build a substantial presence online and find new customers.

Nick and Louise Goldsmith, founders of Hidden Valley Bushcraft, former Royal Marine and police officer

When Nick was medically discharged with PTSD after 11 years in the Royal Marines, he and his partner Louise, a child protection police officer, needed time to recover. Nick was passionate about bushcraft, and with help from his ex-Forces friends, he and Louise set up Hidden Valley Bushcraft, a company that provides outdoor education and recreation experiences on six acres of previously disused woodland.

Today the company, which started out offering children’s parties, runs a woodland nursery, corporate teambuilding events and a number of well-being days. Nick and Louise don’t think they could have succeeded without Facebook – having a visual business means Hidden Valley Bushcraft is able to use images to tell its story, and Nick and Louise have used features like Facebook Groups to grow their presence organically and put their business on the map.

Find out more

Check out Facebook’s new small business resource hub to learn more about the free tools, resources and advertising options offered to small businesses.

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