Opportunities for female veteran entrepreneurs
According to a recent survey released by Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence and Capital One Financial Corporation, nearly half of all female veteran business owners in America say that being a business owner has helped them transition to civilian life after military service, and 55 percent of women vets said it was their leadership experience in the military that inspired them to start their own business.
To fuel the growth of these female veteran entrepreneurs’ businesses, Count Me In and Capital One have partnered to develop the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC). The new training and mentorship program is designed to help established women small business owners who are veterans or spouses/domestic partners of veterans conquer daily business challenges and plan ahead for future growth and success.
For example, nearly half of the women surveyed (46 percent) report that they do not have business plans in place for the next one to two years, a shortcoming that can impact growth and profitability. They also recognize that they have more to learn about building and expanding their business. Twenty-eight percent say their greatest need is learning about securing new customers, while 24 percent say they need guidance in gaining access to capital. Other issues women veteran business owners report facing include managing finances and cash flow (19 percent), creating a marketing strategy (15 percent) and developing a clear strategy for growth (14 percent).
To help women vets overcome these and other business challenges, Count Me In and Capital One will host the WVEC initiative with a conference and business pitch competition for women small business owners who are military veterans or spouses/domestic partners of vets on November 18-19, 2013. The event, to be held at the Capital One Conference Center in Plano, will gather hundreds of women veterans as growth experts to participate in a variety of panels and workshops, some of which will be led by women veterans.
“At Capital One, we’re proud to support service members who are looking for ways to translate their unique skill sets into the civilian workforce,” said Sanjiv Yajnik, President, Capital One Financial Services, and Capital One’s South Central Regional Market President Network. “Starting a business is a challenging prospect for any entrepreneur. We’re committed to doing our part to help women veteran business owners succeed and grow their businesses. It’s important not only for the women business owners themselves, but their families and the communities their businesses serve.”
Coaching, mentorship, and more
Capital One has committed $800,000 and additional in-kind services such as coaching and mentoring toward the WVEC program. The 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. In March 2012, Capital One, the U.S. Chamber and National Chamber Foundation announced “Hiring 500,000 Heroes,” a national campaign to engage the business community in committing to hire 500,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014.
“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,” said Nell Merlino, Founder and President of Count Me In. “With Capital One’s help, WVEC will provide women veteran business owners with the direct training and the assistance they need to overcome challenges to their continued business growth.”
To help women prepare for the November 2013 WEVC Event, Count Me In will host a series of free Pitch Parties in select Texas cities for interested business owners. At these events, participating women can practice their two-minute business pitch and receive expert feedback and network with other women veteran entrepreneurs.