$15 million Veteran Loan Fund closes its first round with support from Wells Fargo
Unprecedented initiative in support of veteran entrepreneurs gains momentum
AUSTIN, TEXAS – The Veteran Loan Fund announced today that it has raised $15 million in support of veteran-owned business, including seed funding from Wells Fargo. The Veteran Loan Fund is a collaborative effort by a national network of Specialized Service Organizations and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) focused on providing affordable capital and technical assistance to underserved Veteran entrepreneurs.
“Thanks to Wells Fargo, for their support allows organizations like PeopleFund to open a path to economic freedom for Veterans. It is an honor to offer this kind of opportunity to those that have given so much for this country,” said Gustavo Lasala, President and CEO of PeopleFund, managing member of the Veteran Loan Fund, based in Austin, Texas.
Lack of access to capital, formal business training or a network of peers are often roadblocks for Veterans who aim to attain financial independence through entrepreneurship. The goal of the Veteran Loan Fund is to fill this gap. Veterans receiving loans from this program benefit from free access to a national network of business coaches and loans with low interest rates.
National technical assistance partners include Bunker Labs, Vet Met and Vet to CEO. Local partners include Veteran Business Outreach Centers, SCORE and SBDCs. Capital providers (CDFIs) include Access to Capital For Entrepreneurs (GA), Black Business Investment Fund (FLA), Business Impact Northwest (WA, OR), Colorado Enterprise Fund (CO), Dream Spring (NM), Economic and Community Development Institute (OH), Pathway Lending (TN, AL, KY), PeopleFund – managing member (TX), Pursuit – formerly Excelsior Growth Fund (NJ, NY, PA), and Wisconsin Women Business Initiative Corporation (WI).
Wells Fargo support to the Veteran Loan Fund includes a $3.5 million investment and a $1.5 million grant to make it possible for the CDFIs to provide affordable loans to eligible veterans and for the fund to break even. Since the launch of the fund, member CDFIs have deployed more than $10.5 million in loans, creating more than 500 jobs and providing 2,200 hours of free technical assistance. Approximately 20% of this volume corresponds to PeopleFund operations in Texas.
The estimated annual demand for capital from Veteran entrepreneurs that do not receive any kind of funding for their businesses is $100 million. The Veteran Loan Fund plans to close this gap within five years.
“Entrepreneurship can be a very satisfying career path as people transition out of the military, but veterans need more access to capital and expertise to operationalize their business plans,” said Jenny Flores, head of small business growth philanthropy at Wells Fargo. “We support the Veteran Loan Fund’s vision for a more inclusive economy and are proud to offer seed funding for this national effort to boost veteran-owned businesses.”
For more information, please visit https://www.veteranloanfund.com
Established in Austin in 1994, PeopleFund has a nearly 30-year history supporting diverse, underserved communities across Texas that predominantly include low and moderate income, women, veterans and people of color. A Community Development Financial Institution, certified by the US Treasury and SBA Lender with delegated statewide authority, PeopleFund offers micro and small business loans from $2,500 to $5 million along with an active New Markets Tax Credit Program that allocates tax credits to projects in economically distressed areas. With almost $200 million delivered to more than 4,650 small businesses and $150 million in New Markets Tax Credit allocations that attracted $750 million in investments, PeopleFund direct impact in Texas economy is approaching $1 Billion. Considering the 20,000 jobs created or retained, the more than 130,000 hours of technical assistance delivered and the indirect impact in economic activity since its inception, PeopleFund contribution to economic and social progress in economically distressed communities is far reaching. For more information about PeopleFund please visit https://peoplefund.org
Reporters may Contact:
Jenny Palecek, PeopleFund
Ty Morrison, Wells Fargo