First Data Salutes Our Veterans, Military Spouses, Guard and Reservists

Six years ago, First Data Chairman and CEO Frank Bisignano was part of a group of 11 corporations who came together with a commitment to hire 100,000 veterans by the year 2020. And they did. They exceeded the goal by more than two times the original commitment, four years sooner than anticipated.

But since that time, the narrative has changed as our understanding has evolved. No longer is it sufficient enough to hire veterans – to be a real part of the solution, to truly support our military families within the private sector, we must retain them, develop them, integrate them into our companies, and help them climb the ladder of corporate success.

And, it is not just about veterans either – still-serving Guard and Reserve members and military spouses are vital, valued assets to the economy. They bring emotional intelligence, leadership, comfort with uncertainty, self-reliance, calculated risk-taking, autonomy, ambition, and the ability to make effective decisions with limited information and in timely manner. More than that, though, they have the intuition of when to spot an opportunity where others see a challenge; and when to build bridges where others see insurmountable gaps.

It’s often said but it still bears repeating: small business is the engine that powers the American economy.

A recent study by the U.S. Small Business Administration found that military service exhibits one of the largest marginal effects on self-employment, and veterans are 45% more likely to be self-employed than non-veterans.

According to the most recent data, there is about one veteran-owned firm for every ten veterans, and veteran-owned firms employ 5.8 million individuals throughout the country.

At First Data, we have focused on veteran entrepreneurship in two ways. First, we want to level the playing field and give every veteran the opportunity to start his or her own business.

First Data’s exclusive Veteran Business Offer is specifically designed to help veterans and military spouses build upon their dreams of business ownership and success.

First Data offers a consistent military business package to military-owned businesses, along with free processing on Independence Day and Veterans Day, and discounted rates on other products and services.

With the capabilities of our innovative Clover product line, these veteran-owned businesses will immediately begin to grow their customer base; understand all the ways to protect their business and stay compliant with ever-changing payment card industry requirements; and manage back-of-house responsibilities such as payroll and inventory easily and efficiently so they can reach their business' full potential. 

This product package opens the door of opportunity for so many veterans and military spouses. And we have no doubt that, whatever the big business idea a veteran might have, he or she will be fully prepared to work toward it with the support of First Data.

And second, as part of a 7 million dollar partnership with the Institute for Veterans and Military Families at Syracuse University, we co-founded the Coalition for Veteran Owned Business. The Coalition is built on a foundation of commitment -- as well as creative thinking and collaboration – from some of America’s most important companies, nonprofits, and government agencies.

Together, through the Coalition, we guarantee unprecedented and unparalleled support and access to resources for all businesses operated by the greater military and veteran community, including both business-to-business and business-to-consumer models.

The determination and drive to launch a company from an idea is difficult to teach in a classroom, and often those skills can never truly be learned through education alone. That is why we offer an expansive, searchable listing of local, regional and national events for business owners to interact with entrepreneurship leaders.

The Coalition also provides detailed information on corporate supply chains, including direct links to the supplier diversity leaders at Coalition partner companies. The direct connection between entrepreneurs and business leaders is an incredible value-add for small business development and growth.

There are thousands of veteran entrepreneurship stories, and the common thread in many of them is the determination of the veterans to succeed. And it is in that radical determination where First Data wants to continue to invest our resources and expertise.

We have a responsibility to continue to strive for excellence, to continuously expand our efforts, and to continue and maintain our commitment. We owe our veterans, service members and military families far more, but at least that much.

All of us have the opportunity to leverage commitment to the military community in our businesses and organizations, large and small, along main streets, in board rooms, and throughout supply chains.

Let us never forget why we do this work and who we do this work for.