Independent business owners Richard Ashe of Veteran Franchise Centers, and Mary McKeown-Christie and Tracey Nelson of MMS: Maven Marketing Solutions launched the Veterans Franchise Initiative (VFI) last week at the MFV West Coast Franchise Expo in Anaheim, CA. Established as a benefit corporation, VFI was created to provide honorably discharged Veterans with $25,000 equity funding grants to secure business financing for the purchase of a franchised business opportunity. This program is the first private initiative of its kind, and received an enthusiastic response from franchise industry executives as it addresses the largest hurdle for Veterans to overcome when starting a business; equity funding to secure financing. The goal of the organization is to raise a minimum of $1.5 million dollars per year to fund at least 40 Veterans annually with a lottery draw for equity grants at three MFV Franchise tradeshows throughout the United States (Houston, New York, Anaheim) in 2014. The initial fundraising objective is to raise $100,000 by December 31, 2013 enabling VFI to issue three grants to qualified Veterans in early February 2014 at the Franchise Expo South in Houston, TX. Donations may be made online by visiting www.veteranfranchiseinitiative.org.
More than 1,000,000 Veterans will be returning home over the next five years to a slow economy with limited employment prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.7 percent of Veterans are currently unemployed in the U.S., compared to 9.1 percent for the overall population. As multiple franchisors have discovered, most Veterans have the specific qualities that make great franchisees, including discipline, initiative, leadership and team work skills.
VFI was founded on the belief that qualified Veterans who have already given so much to our country should be given the opportunity to build a business. Veteran entrepreneurship is a win-win for both Veterans and the economy, not only providing Veterans with a means to stability and dignity through entrepreneurship, but also stimulating their local communities.
Although the SBA has defined loan programs such as the Patriot Express Loan Program, equity requirements remain challenging for Veterans to secure the business financing and start-up capital necessary to obtain loans. The VFI equity grant program solves this problem and provides Veterans with a path to success.
Companies, groups and individuals who wish to thank U.S. Veterans for their service and assist them with meeting their minimum equity requirements are urged to visit www.veteranfranchiseinitiative.org and contact VFI to discuss working together in this important effort. The more funds we raise, the more Veterans VFI helps.