Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps to Help Women Vets Accelerate Small Business Growth
McLean, Va. (October 23, 2012) – Forty-six percent of U.S. women veteran business owners say that being a business owner has helped them transition to civilian life after military service, according to a new survey released today by Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence and Capital One Financial Corporation. 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, according to the survey.
To help women veterans fuel the growth of their small businesses and create new jobs for veterans and civilians across the country, Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence has partnered with Capital One to develop the Women Veteran Entrepreneur Corps (WVEC). The new training and mentorship program is designed to help established women small business owners who are veterans or spouses/domestic partners of veterans conquer daily business challenges and plan ahead for future growth and success.
Women vets face a number of challenges to growing their businesses, found the Count Me In and Capital One study. For example, nearly half of the women surveyed (46 percent) report that they do not have business plans in place for the next one to two years, a shortcoming that can impact growth and profitability. They also recognize that they have more to learn about building and expanding their business. Twenty-eight percent say their greatest need is learning about securing new customers, while 24 percent say they need guidance in gaining access to capital. Other issues women veteran business owners report facing include managing finances and cash flow (19 percent), creating a marketing strategy (15 percent) and developing a clear strategy for growth (14 percent).
To help women vets overcome these and other business challenges, Count Me In and Capital One will kick off the WVEC initiative with a conference and business pitch competition on April 29-30, 2013 for women small business owners who are military veterans or spouses/domestic partners of vets. The event, to be held at Capital One’s headquarters in McLean, Va., will gather hundreds of women veterans and business growth experts to participate in a variety of panels and workshops, some of which will be led by women veterans. Individuals can register for the WVEC Conference and Competition at www.countmein.org/wvec.
“At Capital One, we’re proud to support our service members who are looking for ways to translate their unique skill sets into the civilian workforce,” said John G. Finneran, Jr., General Counsel, Capital One. “Starting a business is a challenging prospect for any entrepreneur. We are committed to doing our part to help women veteran business owners succeed and watch their businesses grow. It’s important not for the only the women business owners themselves, but their families and the communities their businesses serve.”
Capital One has committed $800,000 and additional in-kind services such as coaching and mentoring toward the WVEC program. The program builds on Capital One’s three-year, $4.5 million commitment to support the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s Hiring Our Heroes initiative, a program that provides job fairs and workforce training initiatives across the United States for veterans and military spouses. In March 2012, Capital One, the U.S. Chamber and National Chamber Foundation announced “Hiring 500,000 Heroes,” a national campaign to engage the business community in committing to hire 500,000 veterans and military spouses by the end of 2014.
“The energy and motivation that women veterans bring to their business ventures is unmatched, and we are very excited to use our experience helping women reach their entrepreneurial potential to help this important - and growing - group of new entrepreneurs,” said Nell Merlino, Founder and President of Count Me In. “With Capital One’s help, WVEC will provide women veteran business owners with the direct training and the assistance they need to overcome challenges to their continued business growth.”
At the WVEC Conference and Competition, participating women will:
- Learn growth strategies from nationally renowned small business experts.
- Meet women who have built their ideas into million dollar successes through Count Me In programs, who will offer advice and insights on how to think like a CEO, position a business for success, improve work-life balance, and more.
- Pitch their businesses for a chance to join Count Me In’s celebrated Business Accelerator Program, a six-month intensive business education program designed to help women grow their businesses significantly within 18-36 months.
- Connect with hundreds of motivated women veteran entrepreneurs from across the country in a variety of business sectors – new clients, vendors and peers.
To help women prepare for the 2013 WEVC Event, Count Me In will host a series of free Pitch Parties in select cities across the U.S. for interested business owners. At these events, participating women can practice their two-minute business pitch and receive expert feedback and network with other women veteran entrepreneurs. Individuals can register for the WVEC Pitch Parties and the April Conference and Competition at www.countmein.org/wvec.
The WVEC Conference and Competition agenda will be shaped by a Steering Committee, comprised of a diverse group of public and private sector authorities including:
- Vernice “FlyGirl” Armour, VAI Consulting and Training, LLC; America’s First African American Female Combat Pilot;
- Hero Barker, Director, Veterans Business Resource Center, of Norfolk, Va.;
- Samira B. Cook-Gaines, Director, Washington D.C. Women's Business Center;
- Theresa Daytner, CEO, Daytner Construction Group
- Dawn Halfaker, Founder & CEO, Halfaker and Associates, President, Wounded Warrior Project Board of Directors;
- Tina Kapral, Director of Education Programs, Institute for Veterans and Military Families, Syracuse University;
- Susan Lee-Merrow, Virginia Small Business Development Centers;
- Pauline Leitch, Director, Springfield (Va.) Women's Business Center;
- Kathy Roth-Duoquet, CEO, Blue Star Families;
- Karen Smaw, Vice Chairman, Fairfax County Economic Development Authority;
- Tatiana Stead, Vice President, Corporate Affairs, Capital One, Lt. Colonel (Ret.), United States Air Force Reserve;
- Cassaundra St. John, CEO and Founder, F7 Group;
- Susan Wilson, Founder & CEO, The Judgment Group, Spouse of US Military Veteran;
The findings reported in this release are survey conducted by the opinion research firm, Braun Research of Princeton, New Jersey. Braun Research interviewed 800 women veterans who own businesses across the United States. The interviews were conducted by telephone from September 21st through October 3rd, 2012. The margin of error for the interview is plus or minus 3.44 percentage points. Sampling for this study was conducted across the United States using a database of veterans which was screened for women veterans who owned a business. A radius sampling technique was also used around military bases to identify veterans who live in close proximity to bases and then screened for women who owned businesses. All interviews were conducted using a computer-assisted telephone interviewing system. Statistical weights were designed from US Census Bureau statistics and US Commerce department statistics for region, revenue and industry.
About Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence
Count Me In is the leading not-for-profit provider of business education and resources for women interested in growing their micro-businesses into million-dollar enterprises. Founded in 1999, the organization inspires and instructs thousands of women business owners online, at live events, and through peers, coaches and experts to significantly increase revenues and create new jobs. CMI has developed a reputation nationally and internationally for accelerating business growth and positioning women in the forefront of global economic recovery. For more information on Count Me In programs and resources visit www.countmein.org.
About Capital One
Capital One Financial Corporation (www.capitalone.com) is a financial holding company whose subsidiaries, which include Capital One, N.A., Capital One Bank (USA), N. A., and ING Bank, fsb, had $216.5 billion in deposits and $294.5 billion in total assets outstanding as of March 31, 2012. Headquartered in McLean, Virginia, Capital One and ING Direct offer a broad spectrum of financial products and services to consumers, small businesses and commercial clients through a variety of channels. Capital One, N.A. has approximately 1,000 branch locations primarily in New York, New Jersey, Texas, Louisiana, Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia. A Fortune 500 company, Capital One trades on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "COF" and is included in the S&P 100 index.