New York Citi and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF) at Syracuse University today announced that the Accion U.S. Network will provide first-stop financing for aspiring small-business owners participating in the Citi SalutesSM: Realizing Your Dream program for veteran entrepreneurs, which is funded by the Citi Foundation. The country's largest nationwide micro- and small-business lending network will provide crucial access to microloan capital and technical assistance for graduates of the IVMF's entrepreneurship training programs including: Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) and Boots to Business, both joint initiatives of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
Of the more than 2,500 veterans who have graduated from an IVMF entrepreneurship-training program, on average 55 percent have started businesses and nearly 80 percent of those businesses have survived beyond four years. However, for those who have not yet started a business, the reason most commonly cited is difficulty in accessing capital. With an estimated one million servicemembers leaving active-duty service in the coming years and with 20 percent expected to start their own business, the need for start-up and sustaining capital is critical.
Now, with support from Accion, graduates of V-WISE and Boots to Business who are ready and able to build strong businesses will be able to directly interact with Accion through a dedicated web portal that will go live in January 2014 and begin the process of securing financing. In addition to loan applications, IVMF graduates across the country will be able to access local workshops and networking events, connect with other program graduates, and serve as resources to fellow veterans and their families seeking to build small businesses as pathways to long-term financial security.
"SBA is grateful to companies like Citi and their Realizing Your Dream program that provide opportunities for veteran entrepreneurs," said Rhett Jeppson, Associate Administrator, Veterans Business Development, U.S. Small Business Administration. "These veterans, like those before them, have made tremendous sacrifices for our country and will make huge contributions to our nation's economy in the near future. Citi's and the Citi Foundation's generosity will have a significant impact on the next generation of veteran entrepreneurs."
Citi and IVMF launched the Citi Salutes: Realizing Your Dream program in May 2013 and centers around veterans who are established or aspiring entrepreneurs submitting formal small-business plans in hopes of receiving a share of $130,000 in available seed funding. As part of the program, V-WISE and Boots to Business graduates who have at least 51 percent ownership in a small business can submit business plans that will be judged by an outside panel of independent judges involved in entrepreneurship.
"Accion is proud to join the Realizing Your Dream team," said Gina Harman, CEO of the Accion U.S. Network. "Working with Citi and the IVMF provides us a great opportunity to help deserving veterans and their families by providing capital to grow or start a business. Accion works with veterans all across the nation, but through this partnership, we will be available to those who graduate the Boots to Business program and are in need of capital."
In partnership with Citi Community Development and with funding from the Citi Foundation, the Citi Salutes: Realizing Your Dream program is a part of the firm-wide Citi Salutes initiative to support veteran consumers and job-seekers by connecting them to Citi's entire range of services geared to the veteran community, including career development opportunities, banking products and services developed to meet the unique needs of military families, and partnerships with leading veterans service organizations.
"Citi is focused on ensuring that entrepreneurship is a realistic pathway to post-service livelihoods for our nation's returning troops and their families," said Suni Harford, Citi's Regional Head of Markets for North America. "With Accion's support, hundreds of veteran entrepreneurs will now have access to affordable capital paired with the smart technical assistance they need to succeed."
"The IVMF is excited to partner with the Realizing your Dream initiative," said Mike Haynie, Executive Director of the Institute for Veterans and Military Families. "Citi and Accion bring a long history of commitment to our nation's veterans and small business owners. The ability to access capital and additional resources will have a tremendous impact on the graduates of our entrepreneurship programs."
Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.
Additional information may be found at www.citigroup.com | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: www.youtube.com/citi | Blog: http://blog.citigroup.com | Facebook: www.facebook.com/citi | LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/company/citi
The Citi Foundation
The Citi Foundation is committed to the economic empowerment and financial inclusion of individuals and families, particularly those in need, in the communities where we work so that they can improve their standard of living. Globally, the Citi Foundation targets its strategic giving to priority focus areas: Microfinance, Enterprise Development, Youth Education and Livelihoods, and Financial Capability and Asset Building. The Citi Foundation works with its partners in Microfinance and Enterprise Development to support environmental programs and innovations. Additional information can be found at www.citifoundation.com.
Citi Community Development
Citi Community Development is leading Citi's commitment to achieve economic empowerment and growth for underserved individuals, families and communities by expanding access to financial products and services, and building sustainable business solutions and innovative partnerships. Our focus areas include: commercial and philanthropic funding; innovative financial products and services; and collaborations with institutions that expand access to financial products and services for low-income and underserved communities. For more information, please visit www.citicommunitydevelopment.com
The Accion U.S. Network
As the largest nationwide micro- and small business lending network in the United States, we connect small business owners with the accessible financing and advice it takes to create or grow healthy businesses. Since 1991, the five members of the Accion U.S. Network have collectively made over 47,700 loans, totaling over $380 million. Additionally, over 400,000 business owners across the nation have turned to Accion for financial and business advice via workshops, online tools, and one-on-one consultations. Globally, Accion (www.accion.org) is a pioneer in microfinance, reaching millions of individuals through its international network of partners. For more information visit us.accion.org.
As the first institute of its kind in the nation, the IVMF leverages the intellectual, programmatic and human capital resources of higher education in support of the post-service life course of the nation's veterans and military families. The IVMF focuses on developing impactful programming, cultivating actionable research, conducting policy analysis and providing technical assistance positioned to address the social, economic and public policy challenges facing the veterans' community. The IVMF team approaches this mission as a collaboration, forging enduring partnerships with government, private industry, institutions of higher education, philanthropic organizations and stakeholders committed to supporting transitioning service members, veterans and their families. Visit vets.syr.edu for more information. Follow the IVMF on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, VetNet and LinkedIn.