Bank of America has launched an entrepreneur lending program for U.S. veterans.
The $20 million program is designed to help veterans “kick-start and grow their businesses,” the bank said. Long Island veterans can apply to participate through the New York-based Excelsior Growth Fund.
“Helping our veterans translate their skills and become entrepreneurs driving the U.S. economy is one of the ways Bank of America is thanking them for their service,” Bank of America CEO Brian Moynihan said in a statement released Friday.
Loans will be administered through participating community development financial institutions (CDFIs); these nonprofit institutions have expertise in lending to small businesses and understand local circumstances, including economic development and job creation opportunities, the bank said.
In addition to deploying capital, the Bank of America Charitable Foundation is providing $1.3 million in grants over two years to help CDFIs manage operating costs.
Long Island veterans interested in applying can do so at excelsiorgrowthfund.org. Excelsior is a CDFI that provides financial products and business advisory services to small businesses that cannot obtain conventional financing.
Its average loan size was about $88,000 in 2017, and about 55 percent of its loans are to minority or women-led business enterprises. Bank of America will back the fund with about $5 million to lend to veterans, Pat MacKrell, CEO at Excelsior in Albany, said Monday.
Along with “the issue of recognition of service, which veterans deserve, they also tend to be better business people and more successful entrepreneurs,” said MacKrell, a former Marine. “So we, and the banks, are motivated to recognize their service, and realize these customers can become some of our best customers.”
MacKrell added that Excelsior has partnerships with many banks, but some are “a little less structured, where we get referrals. Bank of America is providing capital and support.”