Common Impact Blog

Supporting Veterans Through Skilled Service

By Marielle Walter | Nov 12, 2018

This week we celebrate Veteran’s Day and as a tribute to the people who serve in our military, we are showcasing a skills-based volunteer project that supports veteran-owned small businesses. Based in Austin, TX, PeopleFund is an organization that creates economic opportunity and financial stability for underserved entrepreneurs in Texas. Their work touches women, minorities, ex-offenders, members of the LGBT community and veterans by providing access to capital, education and resources to build healthy small businesses and, in the process, improve economic mobility for their families and the community.

PeopleFund estimates that about 25% of their small business owners are veterans, but this audience has been steadily growing. The organization was already partnering with other nonprofits focused on funding veterans, but they decided they could benefit from establishing a collaborative group to support this effort. With this idea in mind, PeopleFund approached Common Impact with a request to support market research that would uncover high-impact Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) throughout the U.S. that are focused on veterans and willing to participate in more collaborative approach to funding small businesses. PeopleFund had already received a grant from JPMorgan Chase to fund this work, and through this project, they also received support from six skilled volunteers.

The JPMorgan Chase volunteer team researched and recommended potential new CDFI partners that could align with PeopleFund’s ultimate goal to increase leveraged funding opportunities, the quality of technical assistance and the geographic scope of veteran small business lending across the U.S. The team started their work in April and over the course of six months (and over 290 volunteer hours) assessed PeopleFund’s current criteria for collaborative partners, suggested refinements and prepared a final matrix to inform a partner scan. The team then researched the CDFI landscape against their established criteria and delivered a list of final recommendations for collaborative partners along with suggestions on how to best approach the organizations. The project will support PeopleFund as they build an outreach strategy and develop new partnerships to better serve the veteran small business community and delivered an estimated Social Return on Investment of $53,200 to the organization.

Amber Kani, Director of Advancement & Education at PeopleFund summed up the project best by stating,

We worked with a talented group of JPMC employees to advance opportunities for veteran entrepreneurs. The [team] did extensive research and connectivity with peer nonprofits, associations, and organizations nationally so we could expand our collaborative and create economic opportunity for more veterans and military families. They pushed our project to the next level, seeking input from federal agencies and empowered us to forge new partnerships. We are incredibly grateful for this experience and the new doors that will be opened for us and the clients we serve as a result of this project.”