Lifelong Lessons Learned While Cleaning a Community

Every Saturday, Jake, Seth and Sydney Sherman drive through their Owasso, Oklahoma, community to collect, organize and transport recyclables from their growing number of neighborhood customers to processing facilities nearby – a service that was left to residents themselves before the Shermans opened for business.

When Navy veteran Jake Sherman launched his curbside recycling business, Green Teens, in 2015, he wasn’t looking to quickly turn a profit for himself. Sherman was seeking to answer a local community need while spending quality time with his son Seth and daughter Sydney—the inspirations for the company’s name—to teach them the values of hard work, discipline and attention to detail that are central to life in the military.

Through the Bank of America Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program, Green Teens received a loan from PeopleFund—a community development financial institution (CDFI) partner —that provided the necessary capital and business training to start scaling the operation.

“We are committed to expanding access to capital for veteran small business owners because we recognize the deeply valuable skill sets these entrepreneurs bring to the marketplace,” said Michael Winter, ESG Development Executive at Bank of America. “Providing assistance to these individuals in the early, critical stages of starting a business integrates our commitment to connecting founders to new, sustainable sources of funding with our long-term dedication to supporting military families.”

With the loan from PeopleFund, Jake was able to invest in additional supplies, including a trailer, signage, cans and bins. He was also able to add a separate service for glass curbside recycling. After five years in operation, the entrepreneurial family has now set its sights on expanding Green Teens’ customer base to the commercial sector.

“We know that veteran entrepreneurs are disciplined leaders,” said Gary Lindner, President and CEO of PeopleFund and United States Air Force Colonel (Ret.), “but we recognize that access to capital is a very real challenge when trying to scale their small businesses. By providing loans through the Bank of America Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program, we’re able to help these founders grow both their individual operations as well as their local community economies in significant ways.”

Before receiving the PeopleFund loan, Jake participated in Oklahoma State University’s Veterans Entrepreneurship Program—a two-month long training opportunity offered as a resource through the Bank of America Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program—that provided him with technical assistance and networking resources to help chart Green Teens’ path to expansion.

“Before attending the Veterans Entrepreneurship Program, I hadn’t had the chance to spend meaningful time with other veterans in decades,” said Jake. “I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to connect with fellow soldiers and small business owners, and access the resources we need to continue growing Green Teens and serving our Owasso community.”


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