While funding is a recurring issue for women entrepreneurs, it is a particularly vexing one for veteran women entrepreneurs. The problem: Women veteran entrepreneurs typically bring in lower receipts than their counterparts in other women-owned businesses.
A 2020 national survey of military-affiliated entrepreneurs focusing on female veterans found that 91% of the women needed capital to start a business. When female veterans pursued financing, 48% were turned down for small-business funding. Of those that were turned down, 64% did not reapply, and 23% reapplied and were rejected again. Thirteen percent reapplied and ultimately received funding.
The survey also showed that 71% of the veterans didn’t know how to apply for grants and lacked essential business skills such as marketing, product selling, and developing a social media and web presence. The CWE has created a small-business training course for veterans — taught by our veteran partners — that addresses this critical business need.
The reality is that many veterans are quite capable of refining marketing skills to a job or their own business. Military training has made them great leaders with a strong work ethic and the ability to handle stressful situations. These skills translate well into entrepreneurship, and veterans just need some funding help to get their business started.
The Center for Women Entrepreneurs has recognized this disparity and is offering a third round of grants specifically for veteran women. Thirty-three women have already received funding and have been able to expand their businesses. The grant funds have been used to fund mobile breastfeeding stations, teach foreign doctors communications skills and for software solutions, to name a few applications.
The Veteran Woman Entrepreneur Grant program is now accepting applications on the CWE webpage through 5 p.m. May 5. Winners will be announced May 22.
Twenty-five $5,000 grants will be awarded to qualified Texas women veterans who are starting businesses or who have existing ones. It is the second year the CWE is offering this grant program aimed specifically at helping women veteran entrepreneurs throughout Texas.
Grant funding may be used for the purchase of machinery, equipment or technology; acquisition of new inventory or raw materials; purchase and installation of fixtures or display units; property improvements; marketing; or other business-related activity that is aligned with the purpose of the program. Grants cannot be used for wages, salaries or sales tax.
Grant winners are required to complete a business plan, attend the small business course and spend three hours with a small business adviser. Veteran women who want to start or grow their business can send questions to [email protected].
TRACY IRBY is the director for the Center for Women Entrepreneurs at Texas Woman’s University. She can be reached at [email protected]. The center is a program of the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership, which is dedicated to preparing more women to take on successful roles in business and public service.