Investing in Veteran Small Business Success

Citi and IVMF Launch Second Round of “Realizing Your Dream” Business Plan Competition for Veterans

Initiative Announced at First Annual Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship National Conference

Citi and the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University (IVMF) announced today the second round of the Citi Salutes: Realizing Your Dream Business Competition, a call for veterans who are established or aspiring entrepreneurs to submit formal small business plans in hopes of receiving a share of $130,000 in available seed funding. The announcement occurred during the First Annual National Conference for graduates of the IVMF’s highly regarded Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) program, a three-day conference and collaborative partnership between the IVMF, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Sam’s Club.

“Starting small businesses continues to be a draw for transitioning servicemembers, veterans and their spouses – with increasing numbers choosing entrepreneurship after the military,” said Suni Harford, Citi’s Regional Head of Markets for North America. “We are pleased to partner again with IVMF to support a program that fosters the entrepreneurial spirit in those who have proudly served our nation.”

Launched in partnership with Citi Community Development and with funding from the Citi Foundation, the Citi Salutes: Realizing Your Dream Business Competition is a part of Citi Salutes℠, a company-wide initiative that supports veteran consumers and job-seekers. The effort supports our nation’s heroes by connecting them to Citi’s entire range of services geared to the veteran community, including career opportunities, partnerships with leading veteran service organizations and useful banking services. “We are thrilled to partner with Citi for the second year of this competition. Even as the economy recovers, access to capital continues to be a challenge for new entrepreneurs. This collaborative effort with Citi will not just help fund new businesses but provide a learning opportunity for all of the participants,” said James Schmeling, IVMF Managing Director and Co-Founder.

As part of the Citi Salutes: Realizing Your Dream Business Competition, graduates of the IVMF’s V-WISE and Boots to Business entrepreneurship training programs with at least 51 percent ownership in a small business will submit business plans that will be judged by an outside panel of independent judges involved in entrepreneurship. The business plan judged to be the best will receive $25,000 in seed funding, with lesser amounts awarded for second and third place, as well as awards for Best Social Venture, Best Technology Venture, and Best Venture Impact Veterans. The Accion U.S. Network, the nation’s leading nonprofit provider of small business coaching and capital, serves as a strategic partner by offering the opportunity for veteran entrepreneurs who graduate from IVMF’s training programs to be considered for business capital access opportunities. Full competition rules and guidelines will be sent to eligible V-WISE and Boots to Business graduates.

Created as a partnership between the IVMF and SBA, V-WISE and Boots to Business are the nation’s leading entrepreneurship training programs for veterans, active duty service members and military family members, positioned to empower participants to launch and/or grow sustainable business ventures. V-WISE, which consists of a 15-day online course in addition to the three-day conference and ongoing post-program support, is open to all female veterans, active duty (including National Guard and Reserve) and female spouses/partners of active duty and veterans with a passion for entrepreneurship and the desire to start and grow their own business. Boots to Business is a three-phase training program that introduces and trains transitioning service members to business ownership. It is open to all transitioning military personnel and their spouses from all branches of service.

About the Institute for Veterans and Military Families (IVMF)

The IVMF is the first national center in higher education focused on the social, economic, education and policy issues impacting veterans and their families post-service. Through our focus on veteran-facing programming, research and policy, employment and employer support, and community engagement, the institute provides in-depth analysis of the challenges facing the veteran community; best practices and serves as a forum to facilitate new partnerships and strong relationships between individuals and organizations committed to making a difference for veterans and military families. Learn more about IVMF at

About Citi

Citi, the leading global bank, has approximately 200 million customer accounts and does business in more than 160 countries and jurisdictions. Citi provides consumers, corporations, governments and institutions with a broad range of financial products and services, including consumer banking and credit, corporate and investment banking, securities brokerage, transaction services, and wealth management.

Additional information may be found at | Twitter: @Citi | YouTube: | Blog: | Facebook: | LinkedIn:

About the Citi Foundation

The Citi Foundation is committed to the economic empowerment and financial inclusion of individuals and families, particularly those in need, in the communities where we work so that they can improve their standard of living. Globally, the Citi Foundation targets its strategic giving to priority focus areas: Microfinance, Enterprise Development, Youth Education and Livelihoods, and Financial Capability and Asset Building. The Citi Foundation works with its partners in Microfinance and Enterprise Development to support environmental programs and innovations. Additional information can be found at

Media Contacts:

IVMF: Tina Kapral, 315-443-8795 or

Citi: Kamran Mumtaz, 212-793-7682 or



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