Two Leading Organizations Committed to Helping Women Veteran Entrepreneurs Become More Successful
Capital One decided to partner with Count Me In on the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps initiative because they share a commitment to support service members who are looking for ways to translate their unique skill sets into the civilian workforce, bolster opportunities for self employment and to help women veteran business owners succeed.
In addition to committing $800,000 toward the program, Capitol One is hosting the WVEC conference and business pitch competition coming up on April 29-30, 2013 at their headquarters in McLean, VA. The event will bring together hundreds of women veterans and business growth experts to participate in a variety of panels and workshops, some of which will be led by women veterans. Capital One will also provide pro bono volunteer mentoring support for small business owners.
Tatiana Stead, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Capital One, Lt. Colonel (Ret.), United States Air Force Reserve had this to say
“We wanted to identify a way to combine our expertise in small business development and our commitment to veterans to help entrepreneurial women vets grow their businesses – a step that not only benefits them personally but also supports local economies and job growth.”
Stead is on the Steering Committee for the WVEC Conference and Competition.
Nell Merlino, Founder of Count Me In and a vocal advocate for women in business expands
“The energy and motivation that women veterans bring to their business ventures is unmatched, and we are very excited to use our experience helping women reach their entrepreneurial potential to help this important – and growing – group of new entrepreneurs. With Capital One’s help, Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps will provide women veteran business owners with the direct training and the assistance they need to overcome challenges to their continued business growth.”
Capital One and Count Me In will continue to work together in a number of ways after the April event. Approximately 100 women will be chosen at the WVEC conference to join a six-month intensive group coaching program that focuses on personal growth and increasing business skills, based on Count Me In’s successful model for women entrepreneurs. Through support from Capital One, Count Me In will hold subsequent events for women veteran business owners in other geographic locations across the country over the three years.
The WVEC program builds on Capital One’s three-year, $4.5 million commitment to support the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative, a program that provides job fairs and workforce training initiatives across the United States for veterans and military spouses.
Four ways WVEC is actively helping women business owners who are military veterans and/or spouses of vets
- Raising awareness around the need for more support for military women – While there are nearly three million veteran-owned businesses in the US, less than 100,000 of these are women veteran-owned and less than 10,000 of those have paid employees. (based on 2010 US Census statistics) Supporting the rapid and sustainable growth of this group is essential in helping our national economy grow. In addition to the opportunities and experiences WVEC can provide, it is important to raise awareness about the need for such programs and potential impact they can have in helping veterans and military families, as well as in driving our local and national economies and much needed creating new jobs.
- Business education, mentoring and coaching – Statistic show that military spouses tend not to be college graduates, with just 15% having graduate degrees. Many military veterans also leave their service without a clear understanding of how to translate their experience into a civilian job, less more a thriving business. In addition, in a recent survey conducted by Count Me In and Capital One of women military veterans with small businesses, 46% admitted they did not have a business plan in place for the next 1-2 years, a shortcoming that can impact growth and profitability. Many also indicated that they were in need of additional education around managing finances and cash flow (19%) flow and creating a marketing strategy (15%). WVEC provides business education that helps build capacity around managing finances, marketing, hiring and establishing a sustainable growth plan. This education is supported with professional coaching and mentoring that instills accountability and helps participants reach their goals.
- A community of women who understand where they are coming from – Many women veterans are hesitant about joining post-military groups because of negative experiences as women while in service. Yet they tend to feel isolated in the civilian world. Spouses and domestic partners of active service personnel are often required to move their home base, sometimes several times a year. They also lack confidence that they can run a business and raise a family and build a successful business at the same time. For nearly a decade, Count Me In has helped thousands of women entrepreneurs tap into the confidence needed to grow their business into a thriving enterprise and a strong community of support they helps them keep going and provides a positive and productive forum to seek advice on daily challenges, business issues, and important resources. In addition to addressing these needs, WVEC also provides a unique community that can address issues specific to military women.
- Financing opportunities – In the 2012 Count Me In/Capital One survey of women business owners who are military veterans, 24% noted the need for more information and education on accessing capital in order to grow their businesses. WVEC provides important resources around accessing financing, as well as best practices on how to best prepare and position a businesses to benefit from that access. In addition to Capital One, PeopleFund and Kiva will also be involved in providing these resources.