Our research consistently shows that for too many military-connected entrepreneurs, access to capital is a major concern. It’s a widespread challenge that cuts across every industry, at any stage in the entrepreneurial journey and in all parts of the country. In fact, our most recent results from the National Survey of Military-Affiliated Entrepreneurs (NSMAE) show that overall, the biggest barrier to entrepreneurship is access to financial support and resources for their businesses.
The D’Aniello Institute for Veterans and Military Families understands these unique and complex challenges for military-affiliated entrepreneurs. And its why, through our partnerships with public and private entities, we channeled more than $275,000 in 2022 to our training program participants so they can start and scale their businesses.
For example, veteran entrepreneur Ericka McKim, founder of cheesecake company And I Like It participated in IVMF entrepreneurship programs including V-WISE, EBV and Veteran EDGE. She sells her gluten-free cheesecakes throughout the Dallas/Ft. Worth metroplex, and in 2022 won $10,000 in the Acceleration Challenge to level-up her business as well as $10,000 from Disabled American Veterans, an IVMF partner. Along with the additional funding resource, “I know that I’m going to be able to use the tools that I’ve been taught through the IVMF and scale my business,” she said.
“Disabled American Veterans sees the incredible value that IVMF entrepreneurship programs have in empowering veterans to pursue the American Dream they sacrificed to make possible for all of us,” said Dan Clare, DAV’s chief communications and outreach officer. DAV annually augments funds provided by IVMF for top ventures that support the veterans community. “We’re proud of our partnership with IVMF and grateful to work together so those who served can fulfill the great potential they bring as founders and business leaders.”
According to the NSMAE survey, almost half (49%) of military-affiliated entrepreneurs cite access to capital as their chief barrier, and 41% say a lack of financing is the biggest barrier to entrepreneurship, meaning funding challenges are two of the top three concerns. Military-affiliated entrepreneurs also see challenges trying to pursue various sources of capital. More than half (54%) applied for credit or financing for their business venture in 2020, and a third (32%) were denied the funding they sought.
The Bureau of Labor statistics reports a veteran owns one in ten of every business. Military experience instills and reinforces skills that make veteran small business owners successful. Many of these qualities can be transferred to success post-service once they are given the rules of the game in the civilian business world including where to find training and resources such as capital.
Even small awards, especially in concert with IVMF’s targeted entrepreneurship programs, can make a major impact for military-affiliated startups. Thong “T” Nguyen, owner of North Carolina-based Leyden Solutions, Inc. also knows the benefits of programming combined with access to capital. After attending IVMF’s EBV program, which he describes as “the best entrepreneurship program I have had the privilege of attending,” Nguyen applied for and won a Shemin Micro-Grant. Thanks to access to those funds, Nguyen will be able to help his company attain the International Standard of Organization (ISO) 9001 to enhance quality management in support of Leyden’s clients.
|Name of organization/award||Amount||Requirements|
|D’Aniello Acceleration Challenge||$100,000||Military-affiliated businesses (10) that are ready to scale|
|Disabled American Veterans (DAV)||$10,000||D’Aniello Acceleration Challenge participant creating change for veterans in their communities|
|AARP||$20,000||Black women veterans|
|Antares Capital||$30,000||5 early military-affiliated alumni with early stage businesses|
|Fiserv||$100,000||Georgia companies with preference toward underserved populations|
|Courage and Sacrifice Most Outstanding Venture||$10,000||Most outstanding presentation, filled with passion, drive and enthusiasm that sets the venture up for success|
|Thomas J. Foley Entrepreneurial Spirit||$1,000||Passion, resiliency, tenacity and perseverance, and leadership qualities necessary to transform entrepreneurial dreams into reality|
|Shemin Micro-Grant Fund||$5,000||EBV alumni can propose funding for a specific business need to support early stages of new venture|