Unprecedented initiative in support of veteran entrepreneurs gains momentum
Albuquerque (July 19, 2022) — The Veteran Loan Fund announced that it has raised $15 million in support of veteran-owned business, including seed funding from Wells Fargo. The Veteran Loan Fund is a collaborative effort by a national network of Specialized Service Organizations and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) focused on providing affordable capital and technical assistance to underserved veteran entrepreneurs.
“As a CDFI, DreamSpring is honored to advance economic inclusion for veterans, who have given so much for our country,” says Anne Haines, President & CEO of DreamSpring. “We’re grateful to America’s veterans for their service, and we're proud that Wells Fargo is our partner in making veterans’ business dreams a reality.”
Lack of access to capital, formal business training, or a network of peers are often roadblocks for Veterans who aim to attain financial independence through entrepreneurship. The goal of the Veteran Loan Fund is to fill this gap. Veterans receiving loans from this program benefit from free access to a national network of business coaches and loans with low interest rates.
National technical assistance partners include Bunker Labs, Vet Met and Vet to CEO. Local partners include Veteran Business Outreach Centers, SCORE and SBDCs. Capital providers (CDFIs) include Access to Capital For Entrepreneurs (GA), Black Business Investment Fund (FLA), Business Impact Northwest (WA, OR), Colorado Enterprise Fund (CO), DreamSpring (AL, AZ, CA, CO, FL, GA, IL, IA, KS, LA, MO, MS, NE, NV, NM, NY, NC, OK, SC, TX, UT, WA, WY), Economic and Community Development Institute (OH), Pathway Lending (TN, AL, KY), PeopleFund - managing member (TX), Pursuit — formerly Excelsior Growth Fund (NJ, NY, PA), and Wisconsin Women Business Initiative Corporation (WI).
Wells Fargo support to the Veteran Loan Fund includes a $3.5 million investment and a $1.5 million grant to make it possible for the CDFIs to provide affordable loans to eligible veterans and for the fund to break even. Since the launch of the fund, member CDFIs have deployed more than $10.5 million in loans, creating more than 500 jobs and providing 2,200 hours of free technical assistance.
The estimated annual demand for capital from veteran entrepreneurs that do not receive any kind of funding for their businesses is $100 million. The Veteran Loan Fund plans to close this gap within five years.
“Entrepreneurship can be a very satisfying career path as people transition out of the military, but veterans need more access to capital and expertise to operationalize their business plans,” said Jenny Flores, head of small business growth philanthropy at Wells Fargo. “We support the Veteran Loan Fund’s vision for a more inclusive economy and are proud to offer seed funding for this national effort to boost veteran-owned businesses.”
For more information, please visit https://www.veteranloanfund.com
DreamSpring is a nonprofit community lender dedicated to eliminating systemic wealth inequities and accelerating the economic inclusion and strength of underserved communities. Founded in 1994, the organization, which operates in 26 states, provides rapid access to capital and customized wrap-around support to the most vulnerable small business owners, focusing on communities including people of color, women, low- to moderate-income earners, people with disabilities, and start-ups. To date, DreamSpring has issued more than 42,000 loans totaling over $465 million to small businesses that support an estimated 72,000 jobs. Learn more at DreamSpring.org.
For further information:
Laura Marrich, DreamSpring
Ty Morrison, Wells Fargo