June 8, 2022
C-Suite Wednesday – Access to Capital is a Top Issue for Veteran Entrepreneurs
“Former service members own approximately 1.8 million businesses across the United States, most of which are small. These businesses employ millions of workers, are responsible for over $1 trillion in revenue, and do so much for their communities,” states House Committee on Small Business Chairwoman Nydia M. Velázquez. “That is why it’s concerning to see that veteran self-employment rates have declined from 16 percent in 1998 to 11 percent in 2018. To reverse this trend, we must do all we can to reduce barriers to entrepreneurship for those that have served our country.”
Throughout the “Military to Main Street: Serving Veteran Entrepreneurship” House Hearing, the Committee and the witnesses discussed veteran entrepreneurs’ needs and how the SBA’s programs are currently supporting and can adapt to further support veteran entrepreneurship.
In fiscal year 2021, the Veterans Business Outreach Centers had an almost 28% increase in the number of veteran entrepreneurs who were provided counseling and training compared to FY20. For fiscal year 2023, the SBA is requesting a $3 million increase to $19 million for Veteran’s Outreach to administer to the various veterans’ programs.
Many of the witness testimonies shared the most important issues for veteran small business owners and ideas to support veteran entrepreneurship.
Dr. Michael Haynie, the Executive Director of D’Aniello Institute for Veterans & Military Families and Vice-Chancellor of Syracuse University, outlined three of the top issues facing veteran entrepreneurs during his testimony.
• Access to capital is a top challenge for Veteran entrepreneurs
• Navigation of local resources is difficult (44% of veteran entrepreneurs report difficulty)
• The diversity of the community equates to disparate barriers and challenges
Similarly, Laurie Sayles on behalf of the Women Veterans Business Coalition provided three recommendations to support women veteran entrepreneurs during her testimony.
- Increase incentives for prime contractors and the Federal Government to award more contracts to women veteran-owned small businesses.
- Change the re-marriage eligibility requirement for Survivor Benefit Plan beneficiaries.
- Allow veterans to use GI Bill benefits to start a business.
Joseph Shamess, the Founder and General Partner of Flintlock Capital, encouraged the committee to work in a bipartisan way to support the Post-9/11 Veteran Business Acceleration Act during his testimony. This bill (H.R. 4991) would enact a pilot program that allows veterans to use their post 9/11 GI benefits to start and run their own business.