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Bank of America supports U.S. military veteran entrepreneurs

$20 million Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program increases access to affordable loans for veteran-owned businesses.

Bank of America launched a $20 million Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program in 2018 to connect U.S. military veteran business owners with affordable capital to help kick-start and grow their businesses. Through June 2020, more than 270 veterans have been connected to $19.8 million in affordable loans.

“Helping our veterans translate their skills and become entrepreneurs driving the U.S. economy is one of the ways Bank of America is thanking them for their service,” said Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan.

Loans are administered through participating community development financial institutions (CDFIs) – nonprofit institutions with expertise in lending to small businesses and an understanding of local circumstances, including economic development and job creation opportunities. Participating CDFIs and Learning Providers also receive grants from the Bank of America Charitable Foundation for resources to operate this specialized work.

Each year, more than 200,000 U.S. service members return to civilian life, including 10 percent with a desire to own a business, creating a pipeline of potential borrowers. Additionally, there are more than 2.5 million businesses in the U.S. that are majority-owned by veterans. Of those, more than 440,000 are veteran-owned businesses with employeesfootnote1, which help drive economic growth and job creation in local communities. See how recipients of the lending program funding are already using the capital to grow their businesses:

  • Topping Designs is a therapeutic outlet for its Army veteran designer and an inclusive fashion brand that supports women in all walks of life in Wheat Ridge, Colorado.
  • Industry Standard LLC, a grounds maintenance company founded by a Marine veteran in Liverpool, New York, is focused on serving military bases and National Cemeteries.
  • So Natural Catering, run by a veteran husband-wife duo, provides healthy food options through their catering business in Harker Heights, Texas.

The lending program is currently available in seven U.S. states with CDFI partners, including Carolina Small Business Development Fund in North and South Carolina; Colorado Enterprise Fund in Colorado; Excelsior Growth Fund (an affiliate of New York Business Development Corporation) in New York; Main Street Launch in California; and PeopleFund in Texas and Oklahoma.

Prior to receiving a loan, borrowers also have the opportunity to participate in a two-month training program led by learning partners – IVMF at Syracuse University, Veterans Entrepreneurship Program at Oklahoma State University or VETToCEO a nonprofit by Veterans for Veterans – offering technical assistance and other resources to help borrowers stay on a path to success.

Bank of America is the largest private investor in CDFIs in the United States, currently with more than $1.6 billion in loans and investments in over 250 CDFIs.

Originally published 10/22/19