Moni Jefferson and Flossie Hall are serial entrepreneurs and military spouses. Over the years, they have each owned several businesses and looked for ways to increase entrepreneurship among the military community. Through their combined passion to create something that would build a profit-for-purpose while also creating a social impact, the Association of Military Spouse Entrepreneurship (AMSE) was born.
"It's a crazy evolution. We are now tapping into a space where it is so needed. People are really recognizing the value of entrepreneurship for military spouses but also the lack of resources and trusted places to go," said Jefferson. She explained that she created The MilSpouse Creative for this reason, to connect and help grow the ability of military spouses to find employment within the entrepreneur world. Jefferson shared that when she brought that community and merged it in with Hall's ideas, they knew they had something special.
AMSE is a digital platform where military spouse entrepreneurs can connect with each other and partner to build opportunities and support one another. The membership includes both free and paid options. The aim is to give military spouses the tools they need to grow, scale and thrive in their businesses. The free option will give members resources, tools, and access to campaigns, or opportunities to be hired. The fee-based option can be paid monthly or yearly and includes master classes with guest experts, a coworking virtual space, tools, a private slack channel, VIP access to events and campaigns and much more.
"We are three pillars; we have the membership which services and provides to the spouses. Then we have the campaigns which helps with economic empowerment by paying spouses for their work. Then the military media marketing," shared Jefferson.
Hall shared that they were working with big corporations and advising them on how to work within the military community. She continued by saying, "We are telling corporations that there is a military spouse entrepreneurship community here that needs you and if you don't have a program, you should, and this is why. Then we help them build their programs." When those companies are then ready to hire, AMSE is directing them to military spouses within their Association.
"The education piece [of AMSE] is really key to support them. The three pillars play into each other to support the companies, the community, and then continue to support the spouses," said Hall. She and Jefferson are building a safe space created by military spouse entrepreneurs for military spouse entrepreneurs. They label themselves as a social impact agency. This space is allowing military spouses to not only work – which targets that 24 percent unemployment rate of military spouses – but to find their purpose and not just a career.
"It's easy to get lost in the sea of google trying to figure out what to do first. We're here to say here's step one, two and three. No question is stupid, we are all here together and living the same lifestyle," said Hall. Jefferson expanded on that by discussing the importance of the support that members of AMSE receive to make their goals come alive.
One of the barriers contributing to the high unemployment rate among military spouses is issues related to childcare. On Feb. 26, 2020, Blue Star Families released its survey results for 2019; 45 percent of military spouses reported being unable to work due to high costs of childcare. When AMSE released its 2019 impact report and polled spouses, the numbers showed that only 7 percent were struggling with childcare.
Hall and Jefferson explained that this is because a military spouse entrepreneur can work around the needs of her family and their spouse's service to the country. Of the spouses polled within AMSE for the impact report, 89 percent are able to work from home with their businesses. This eliminates the need for childcare, in most cases.
Jefferson referenced the focus within organizations and large corporations where they have made huge strides in creating programs geared towards veterans, but they seemed to forget the spouses. This is where AMSE came in. "Now they are realizing that the spouses are the backbone of it all and are asking how they can help," said Jefferson.
AMSE has been open for close to four months and currently has around 400 members. They shared that they have built partnerships with companies like Amazon, LinkedIn Military and Google to name a few. Both have been hard at work within the government to make positive changes for military spouse entrepreneurs. "We don't want to just talk the talk, we are tired of talking about the problems, we are working on the solutions at this point," Hall shared.
"We need to change the mindset that military spouses should just volunteer, give their time or be part of a nonprofit. No, we are challenging them to build big powerful businesses," Hall said. Both agreed that they are no longer waiting for companies to catch up. Instead, they are taking it into their own hands and demanding that military spouses be paid what they are worth.
When asked to describe their agency in one sentence, it was easy for them. AMSE, to them, means impacting the military spouse community with economic empowerment.
They are well on their way.
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