Capital One and the nonprofit organization Count Me In have teamed up to create the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC), a new mentorship and training program that helps female veteran entrepreneurs start new businesses.
Many former military women have credited entrepreneurship for creating a smoother path back into civilian life. And WVEC wants to help facilitate this. A survey by Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence and Capital One Financial Corporation found that “46 percent of U.S. women veteran business owners say that being a business owner has helped them transition to civilian life after military service… More than half (55 percent) of women vets said it was their leadership experience in the military that inspired them to start their own business.”
While female veterans may have entrepreneurial dreams, financing is another matter. In fact, about a quarter of veteran businesswomen find securing capital for their company difficult. So, Capital One has donated $800,000, as well as coaches and mentors, for the WVEC program.
“The challenges that female veterans face when trying to start a small business are the same as civilian women not having a solid plan in place, unable to find small business resources and not connecting to others and asking for help–thinking they can do it on their own,” explains Jodi Brockington, chief marketing officer of Count Me In. “Based on Count Me In’s vast experience in helping thousands of women business owners grow, the program will combine a proven mix of confidence building, business coaching, and community support to help these women significantly contribute to the growth of local economies and create new jobs.”
WVEC is open to female military affiliated business owners at the post-start up phase. The WVEC initiative also applies to small businesswomen who are wives/domestic partners of veterans.
“With the support of Capital One, Count Me In started working with Women Veterans and Spouses in 2012 to diversify the women business owners we already work with across the country. We believed that not every veteran wanted to get a job–they still wanted an adventure. The Women’s Veterans Entrepreneur Corps program had its first Contest & Conference this past year,” says Brockington.
They held the first WVEC Contest and Conference in April 2013 at the Capital One Headquarters in McLean, VA; the next event will be on November 18th and 19th in Plano, TX at another Capital One location. “Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC) is a three-year business growth initiative developed by Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence, the leading non-profit resource for women entrepreneurs interested in growing their micro-businesses into million dollar enterprises,” explains Brockington. “WVEC is designed specifically for women business owners who are veterans or spouses/domestic partners of veterans looking to grow their businesses quickly and sustainably. WVEC is made possible with generous support from Capital One Financial Corporation.”
WVEC has had great response. “The number of women veteran business owners interested in WVEC continues to grow and as we continue to work with partners like VWISE, Capital One, Military One-Click and Inc. Magazine we get better connected to many more. We know that these women want their businesses to succeed just like they have succeeded during their military service,” notes Brockington.