$15 Million Veteran Loan Fund closes its first round with support from Wells Fargo
Unprecedented initiative in support of veteran entrepreneurs gains momentum
ORLANDO, FL – The Veteran Loan Fund announced that it has raised $15 million in support of veteran-owned businesses, 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.
“We are honored to be a part of the Veteran Loan Fund. Veterans have sacrificed so much for this country,” said Duane Lewis, COO of BBIF. “It brings me joy that BBIF can be there to support them on their entrepreneurial journey, providing them with the access to capital and business training they need to scale and grow their business.”
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. Black Business Investment Fund (FLA) is thrilled to be one of the capital providers (CDFIs) which include Access to Capital For Entrepreneurs (GA), Black Business Investment Fund (FLA), Business Impact Northwest (WA, OR), Colorado Enterprise Fund (CO), Dream Spring (NM), 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’s 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
Created in 1987, BBIF’s mission is to develop and promote Black business enterprises through education, training, loans, investments, and other activities and to aggressively promote an atmosphere conducive to their development. A mission-driven lender, BBIF helps communities and businesses thrive by providing loan capital and specialized financial technical assistance services. BBIF is a CDFI (Community Development Financial Institution) and CDE (Community Development Enterprise) certified by the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Community Advantage and Micro Loan lender as certified by U.S. Small Business Administration, Money Smart for Small Business collaborator certified by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and is AERIS rated triple star, A-minus. Since our inception, BBIF has provided over 1,000 loans totaling $81 million and leveraged $292 million in New Markets Tax Credit (NMTC) community investments. BBIF’s investments have helped to create/sustain over 13,884 jobs all while maintaining a historical loan loss rate of 3.5%. Learn more at www.BBIF.com.