Becoming a Vetrepreneur is one avenue transitioning veterans are increasing seeking as they make their way through post-military life. Many are skilled through their military experience to become successful small business owners but lack sufficient equity capital to qualify for a small business loan.
A new not-for-profit organization, called The Veterans Business Fund (VBF), aims to solve that dilemma. The Fund was created to provide financial assistance to veterans, and recently announced the issuing of the Fund’s first low-interest loan to a veteran. VBF provides capital to veterans in the form of a low-interest loan with favorable terms. All principal and interest paid to the Fund are made available to future veteran entrepreneurs requiring assistance in meeting the equity requirements for a small business loan.
BoeFly Chairman and CEO Robert Tannenhauser and Board of Directors member Alvin Sarter have provided the initial capital for the Fund. BoeFly is a service that makes it easier to obtain small business loans by reducing the time, cost, complexity, inefficiency and frustration associated with small business lending. It connects small business borrowers with multiple lenders from among its more than 2,400 participating banks, based on the lending profiles provided by the banks and the information provided in the borrower’s loan request. Its vantage point as a service provider connecting borrowers and lenders provided the insight that led to the development of VBF.
U.S. Army veteran Shilo Harris, a new franchisee of WIN Home Inspection in San Antonio, Texas, was introduced as the first recipient of funds from VBF during a Veterans Day event in San Antonio. The event celebrated the opening of local veteran- and active duty-owned small businesses and the efforts to support the expansion of veteran-owned businesses amid an unemployment rate above 24 percent for some veteran age groups. SBA Administrator Karen Mills was among the event’s speakers.
“Since returning home from Iraq five years ago, I knew I wanted to apply the skills I picked up in the military toward owning and operating a small business, and opening a WIN Home Inspection franchise provides the ideal opportunity for me,” Harris said. “However, owning this business would not be possible without the money I secured from the Veterans Business Fund, and I’m very humbled to be the first veteran to be chosen for the Fund.”
According to the Fund’s organizers, VBF is designed to help veterans achieve small business ownership through franchising or through independent business alike. The Fund has aligned with the International Franchise Association’s VetFran program to help encourage franchising as a viable path for veterans.
“BoeFly has a solid understanding of the equity requirements required by small business lenders and the challenges many veteran entrepreneurs face in meeting them, and we realize small business ownership is out of reach for too many veterans who lack the capital,” said Mike Rozman, co-president of BoeFly and a member of the VBF Board of Directors. “We created the Veterans Business Fund to provide veterans with the supplemental capital required to satisfy the equity requirements for a small
business loan, and ultimately help make it possible for them to apply their military experience to owning a business while creating jobs and helping to boost our economy.”
VBF sources its funds from charitable contributions from donors, individuals, corporations and foundations. “In my position at TD Bank and as an Air Force and Navy veteran myself, I understand the challenging environment many veterans face when looking for small business loans and I am keenly aware so many are immensely qualified to run their own businesses,” said Richard Bradshaw, head of SBA programs at TD Bank and a member of the National Association of Government Guaranteed Lenders Board of Directors. “The VBF’s goal to help veterans get the equity needed for a bank loan is a key initiative to bridge this gap and help veterans get on track to secure loans under highly favorable terms, and it means a great deal to me to lend my support to this valuable organization.”