CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – Every Tuesday for the past few months, a group of veterans have met at The Citadel’s Bastin Hall to learn how to start and grow their own small business.
As folks head home for the evening, there is a class in session at the military college. The class is free for its students because they’ve given so much to their country already.
“We don’t really look at it as needing a ‘thank you,’ but this class is a giant thank you for being a veteran,” said Jeremiah Kouba, U.S. Air Force Veteran.
The course, Impact X, was designed by Stuart Williams nine years ago. It teaches students how to take an idea and turn it into a business.
Williams says this course has no cost because he was once given free guidance by a man whose name is written on the walls where this class is now taught.
“He said, “Stuart, if you are coming to Charleston to take, you may as well leave now. If you’re coming to Charleston to give, we will welcome you with open arms,”” said Williams.
And so, he gave. The veterans in this course are not only learning about business but also about themselves.
“This class helped me to realize that, ok, I really do like helping people. How can I better help people in a way that they needed,” said Maurice Ferguson, Army National Guard, Air Force Veteran.
“I’ve gained so much wisdom and knowledge from this class – I don’t really even know how to put it into words,” said Kouba.
But the director of the South Carolina Veterans Business Outreach Center, CJ Williams, says it is the success of veterans that helps put it into words.
“We had a young man, who had just transitioned out of the Air Force right here locally, he had an idea literally written down on the back of a napkin. He wanted to start what’s called an LTL, less than a truckload. About two months ago, bought his box truck and he has not had a day without deliveries,” said Williams.
Veterans who we heard from said the course inspires them to create a business. But doing it alongside others who served makes them realize they are not alone in their dreams.
“You get to a point in life where sometimes you want to do something, but then you get that voice in the back of your mind saying nah, you can’t do it. But now that I’m in this class, the sky is the limit,” added Ferguson.
While the men and women in this course are just starting off, their ideas for a business are just that. But when asked what they expect their business to be in the future, the response was not expected…
“It makes me get a little emotional to be able to offer something to my son. I can, long after I am gone, (my family) will be able to take over the business someday,” Kouba said.
Program organizers say the veterans in this course have a few weeks of classes left before they are able to take what they learned throughout the months and use it for a lifetime.