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vamboa article

By Debbie Gregory.

Many veterans exhibit advanced team building skills, high levels of resiliency and strong organizational commitment, traits that contribute to making them successful entrepreneurs. There are numerous resources that assist veteran business owners thrive, including the following:

VAMBOA, the Veteran and Military Business Owners Association, is a non-profit trade association that promotes and assists Veteran Business Owners, Service Disabled Veteran Owned Businesses (SDVOB) and Military Business Owners by providing networking, collaboration, mentoring, education, certification and advocacy. Membership is free.

American Corporate Partners is engaged in national corporate career counseling for returning military. The non-profit connects veterans to business leaders for mentorship and career advice.

BusinessUSA provides users with an interactive questionnaire that guides them to the most relevant federal, state, and local services, tools, trainings, and opportunities, assisting in starting or expanding a veteran owned small business.

DVBE, the Disabled Veteran Business Alliance, empowers, provides resources to, and works side-by-side with disabled veterans to promote and support them in establishing, maintaining and growing viable business enterprises.

EBV Foundation’s Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans with Disabilities offers training in entrepreneurship and business management to post-9/11 veterans with service related disabilities.

Federal Business Opportunities is a portal for all businesses, not just vet owned, looking for active federal contracting opportunities.

Honor Courage Commitment, Inc. provides resources such as grants, scholarships and a fellowship program to veteran entrepreneurs, designed to build leadership qualities.

Institute for Veteran and Military Families provides a wide variety of resources geared towards military veterans re-entering the workforce or looking to start their own businesses.

National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC)  is the nation’s leading third party authority for certification of veteran owned businesses of all sizes.

National Veteran Small Business Coalition supports veteran owned small businesses by promoting policies that encourage participation of veteran owned businesses in federal contracting opportunities.

Patriot Boot Camp  focuses on helping active duty military, veterans and their spouses build technology companies. The three day event provides participants with free education, training and mentorship.

Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a multitude of assistance to veterans in their local communities, including Veteran Business Outreach Centers, Boots to Business,

SDVOSBC , the National Center for Veterans Institute for Procurement, Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC), and Leveraging Information and Networks to Access Capital (LINC) .

Streetshares brings together business owners in search of funding and investors looking for both financial and social returns.

21 Gun Salute Initiative supports service-disabled veteran owned businesses with the goal of reserving 3% of contracts for service-disabled veteran owned small businesses.

VetBiz is a VA website that provides information about the Center for Verification and Evaluation’s verification process for veteran owned businesses looking to gain eligibility for the VA’s Veterans First Contracting Program.

VetBizCentral is a veteran run site that assists veteran and active duty military entrepreneurs through training and counseling, networking opportunities, mentoring and advocacy.

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal provides access to a number of business tools and services, from business education to financing opportunities.

Veteran Fast Launch Initiative provides mentoring and training, along with free software and other services, to military veteran entrepreneurs.

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship  provides resources, courses and mentorship to female veterans who have started businesses or are looking to do so.

Vetrepreneur Mentoring provides mentoring services to help veteran entrepreneurs with everything from contractor registration to website creation.

Victory Spark is an accelerator program focused on startups led by U.S. military veterans. The program includes a 12-week mentor-driven Lean LaunchPad Program, along with grant funding for entrepreneurs who complete the program.

 

 

sba

The U.S Small Business Administration (SBA) is looking to serve small business owners as they look for ways to access capital.

Earlier this year, the SBA implemented a new measure to help get small business loans into the hands of veterans.  To continue supporting America’s veterans, the SBA Veterans Advantage reduces the up-front guaranty fee from 3% to 0% for SBA Express loans over $150,000 approved to small businesses owned by qualified veterans.

The SBA has implemented this measure in order to encourage greater participation in SBA lending programs with a direct benefit to veteran-owned small businesses.

This measure set the borrower upfront fee to zero for all veteran loans authorized under the SBA Express program (up to $350,000) which accounts for 73 percent of these loans.  The initiative started on January 1st, and will continue through the end of the fiscal year.

This change makes loans more affordable for borrowers.

Again, this policy announcement means that under the SBA Express program, veteran borrowers will no longer have to pay any upfront fee for any loan up to $350,000.

SBA provides veterans access to business counseling and training, capital and business development opportunities through government contracts. In FY 2013, SBA supported $1.86 billion in loans for 3,094 veteran-owned small businesses.   And since 2009, the dollar amount of SBA lending support to veteran-owned firms has nearly doubled.

Businesses must be 51% or more owned and controlled by an individual or individuals in one or more of the following groups: Veterans (other than dishonorably discharged); Service-Disabled Veterans; Active Duty Military service member participating in the military’s Transition  Assistance Program (TAP); Reservists and National Guard Members; or the Current spouse of any Veteran, Active Duty service member, or any Reservist or National Guard member; or widowed spouse of a service member who died while in service or of a service-connected disability.

 

streetsharesfoundation

By Debbie Gregory

StreetShares, Inc., one of VAMBOA’s strategic partners, is a lending and investing community for veterans and their supporters. StreetShares’ principals have announced the formation of the StreetShares Foundation.

The goal of the StreetShares Foundation is to inspire, educate, and support veteran small business owners. The foundation is partnering with JPMorgan Chase & Co. to provide up to $10,000 each month in Veteran Small Business Awards.

Both StreetShares Foundation and StreetShares, Inc. are veteran-operated..

Iraq War veteran Mark L. Rockefeller, CEO/Co-Founder of StreetShares, said, “Veteran business ownership has been the backbone of the United States economy since World War II. The goal of the StreetShares Foundation is to provide a new generation of veteran and military-spouse small business owners the support they need to thrive.”

The Foundation plans to give three Veteran Small Business Awards each month. Small businesses owned by military veterans, current reserve or active duty members, and qualified military spouses are eligible to apply. The awards are $2,000 for third place, $3,000 for second place, and $5,000 for the first place winner.

Award applications and educational material can be found on the foundation’s website at StreetShares.com/Foundation.

StreetShares had previously conducted a small award program. Last year’s winners collectively reported increasing revenues by over $1 million, hiring 24 new employees, and scoring a “Shark Tank” TV show appearance. With sponsorship from JPMorgan Chase and others, the StreetShares Foundation has plans to substantially expand the award program.

The Veteran Small Business Award program encourages everyone who supports veterans and entrepreneurship to participate in voting for their favorite veteran business at StreetShares.com/Foundation. Finalists will be presented for public vote each month.

We at VAMBOA are proud to partner with StreetShares and further the opportunities they present to military owned and veteran owned businesses.

President Signs Vet Entrepreneurship Act

By Debbie Gregory.

When President Obama signed an act to encourage and equip veterans who want to start their own small businesses, the goal was to help veterans navigate financial barriers by waiving the upfront guarantee fee for veterans applying for 7(a) express loans through the Small Business Administration (SBA), thus helping recently discharged service members and other veterans with opportunities to start new businesses.

With 21 million veterans living in the United States, the unemployment rate among this population is substantially higher than the national average. Because of this challenging statistic, more veterans are exploring self-employment opportunities.

The bill, introduced by House Small Business Committee Chairman Steve Chabot (R-OH), has received praise from lenders and veterans alike.

“Our veterans are as entrepreneurial minded as anyone else in the world,” said Chabot. “Think about all that’s required to launch a new business:  strategic planning, tactical expertise, dogged perseverance, and the ability to adjust plans to overcome new challenges at a moment’s notice. This is the American warfighter. Making sure they can access the resources needed to start their own business and build up the communities they’ve protected will do more than just create jobs – it will help them successfully transition into civilian life.”

Rich Bradshaw, President of Specialized Lending at United Community Bank, Blairsville, GA said, “As a lender, a veteran, and an Air Force Academy graduate, helping veterans make a life for themselves and their families once they return home from service is very personal to me. With more veterans returning to American soil, it is essential we do everything we can to bring down barriers to obtaining access to capital as they come back from doing everything they can to protect our country.  Waiving fees for veteran 7(a) borrowers encourages them to open small businesses, create jobs, and boost the economy.”

According to the Small Business Administration, an estimated 10% of all small businesses across the US are veteran-owned.

vamboa grant

By Debbie Gregory.

As military members complete their tours of duty, re-establishing their careers may be one of the most important tasks in returning to civilian life. Some may be returning to careers that were interrupted during the time they served, but many are starting from scratch. Though the job market is showing some signs of improvement, it’s a slow rise, and those returning veterans are only adding to the many already vying for available jobs. This is one reason many veterans are coming home with aspirations of starting their own businesses.

Entrepreneurial endeavors may be the desired direction, but a good number of veterans express the difficulty acquiring their startup funds to be their biggest challenge. While most industry sectors have veteran business-owners, be it manufacturing, consulting or service industries, technology-related businesses appear to be increasingly popular for veteran entrepreneurs.

Banks are not as willing to establish loans for startup businesses. This leaves potential business owners needing to resort to other means to get their enterprises underway, be it self-funding, crowd-funding, or acquiring funds from friends, relatives, angel investors and venture capitalists. When those resources do not prove to be sufficient, an alternative is exploring government grants specifically for veterans in technology.

There are some stipulations. For example, while the federal government cannot provide grants to a business in the startup phase, it can provide grants for veteran-owned technology firms once established. Two in particular, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program and the Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program, average $2 billion in grants awarded each year. Administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration, the businesses most likely to be awarded grants from these programs fall into the small high-tech category, related to healthcare, education, public safety and criminal justice.

With numerous opportunities for gaining financial stability, and informational resources, such as those available through organizations like VAMBOA (Veteran and Military Business Owners’ Association), startups for veteran entrepreneurs are, indeed, attainable. Of the 28 million businesses in the U.S., approximately 2.4 million are veteran-owned, and this number is growing.

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