Together with Rich Ashe of Veteran Franchise Centers, Mary McKeown-Christie and Tracey Nelson of MMS::Maven Marketing Solutions founded and launched the Veterans Franchise Initiative (VFI) last week at the MFV West Coast Franchise Expo in Anaheim, CA. The three principals established VFI as a benefit corporation to provide Veterans with $25,000 equity funding grants, allowing them to secure business financing for the purchase of a franchised business opportunity.

This program is the first private initiative of its kind, and received an enthusiastic response from franchise industry executives as it addresses the largest hurdle for Veterans to overcome when starting a business; equity funding to secure financing. The goal of the organization is to raise a minimum of $1.5 million dollars per year to fund at least 40 Veterans nominated by franchisors annually, with a draw for equity grants at three MFV Franchise trade shows throughout the United States (Houston, New York, Anaheim) in 2014. The initial fundraising objective is to raise $100,000 by December 31, 2013 enabling VFI to issue three grants to qualified Veterans in early February 2014 at the Franchise Expo South in Houston, TX. 

More than 1,000,000 Veterans will be returning home over the next five years to a slow economy with limited employment prospects. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 11.7 percent of Veterans are currently unemployed in the U.S., compared to 9.1 percent for the overall population.  As multiple franchisors have discovered, most Veterans have the specific qualities that make great franchisees, including discipline, initiative, leadership and team work skills.

Foundational partners include MMS::Maven Marketing Solutions, Veteran Franchise Centers, Griffin Legal, MFV Expositions, MaasPro and Fetch Graphics, with additional companies now in the process of signing on as sponsors.

Companies, groups and individuals who wish to thank U.S. Veterans for their service and assist them with meeting their minimum equity requirements are urged to visit and contact VFI to discuss working together in this important effort.  The more funds we raise, the more Veterans VFI helps.