NaVOBA Corporate Ally Bank of America recently announced a $20 million Veteran Entrepreneur Lending Program to connect U.S. military veteran business owners with affordable capital to help kick-start and grow their businesses.

“Helping our veterans translate their skills and become entrepreneurs driving the U.S. economy is one of the ways Bank of America is thanking them for their service,” said Chief Executive Officer Brian Moynihan.

Loans will be administered through participating community development financial institutions (CDFIs) – nonprofit institutions with expertise in lending to small businesses and an understanding of local circumstances, including economic development and job creation opportunities. In addition to deploying capital, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation is providing $1.3 million in grants over two years to help CDFIs manage operating costs.

Each year, more than 200,000 U.S. service members return to civilian life, including 10 percent with a desire to own a business, creating a pipeline of potential borrowers. Additionally, there are more than 2.5 million businesses in the U.S. that are majority-owned by veterans. Of those, more than 440,000 veteran-owned businesses have employees1, which helps drive economic growth and job creation in local communities. The lending program will kick off in seven U.S. states with the following CDFIs administering the loans and offering an interest rate reduction on loans for qualifying borrowers:

Carolina Small Business Development Fund – North and South Carolina.
Colorado Enterprise Fund – Colorado.
Excelsior Growth Fund (an affiliate of New York Business Development Corporation) – New York
Main Street Launch – California.
PeopleFund – Texas and Oklahoma.
Prior to receiving a loan, borrowers will participate in a two-month training program led by learning partners – IVMF at Syracuse University, Veterans Entrepreneurship Program at Oklahoma State University, and VETToCEO by Veterans for Veterans – offering technical assistance and other resources to help borrowers stay on a path of success and grow their businesses.