Moments that Matter: Receiving Dollars to Make Donuts

by SBA OVBD Staff

Your first business plan. Your first employee. The training course that gives you an edge in the marketplace. Finding a mentor. Receiving the capital you need to expand your business. The turning point when long, hard hours begin to pay off in steady streams of income.

It’s the moment you realize you had an idea that worked – an idea you turned into a business. A dream that became reality.

Each of these pivotal moments – no matter how big or small – is a moment that matters in the veteran entrepreneurship journey. They represent growth, employment, service, delivery, and freedom.

These moments that matter are universal, and the 2.5 million veteran-owned businesses in the U.S. are experiencing them every day as they contribute approximately 1.4 trillion dollars to the nation’s total sales/receipts per year.

SBA is celebrating, connecting, and empowering veterans, service members (including National Guard and Reserve members), and military spouse entrepreneurs and business owners – past, present, and future – this National Veterans Small Business Week (NVSBW) 2017 by highlighting the moments that matter in their journeys.

For Shelenia and Rico Nelson, both U.S. Air Force (USAF) veterans, business ownership provided the autonomy to create a better future for not just their family, but especially for their son, Cory, whose disability prevented him from working a meaningful job outside of janitorial work.

“We wanted to give Cory more than what life was offering him,” said Shelenia. “Opening our doughnut shop, Krack of Dawn Donuts, has enabled our son to work beyond what we ever thought possible – and has also created a great economic opportunity for our family.”

Once the couple had decided on a business venture, they faced a huge challenge many other entrepreneurs also encounter: access to capital to actually launch the business. After countless visits to banks, the couple grew tired of continually not qualifying for a loan. A Wells Fargo banker referred the couple to LiftFund, a pivotal moment in the couple’s entrepreneurial journey.

Banks and their teams play a critical role in supporting small business. In fact, banker referrals represent 34% of referrals to LiftFund. Through LiftFund, Shelenia qualified for a $70,000 loan with an SBA guaranty.

LiftFund is a designated SBA 7(a) Community Advantage (CA) lender, whose pilot program allows for the lending organization to provide more capital to a business if the business is lacking in collateral, in designated communities, or are startups – like the Nelsons. Under the SBA 7(a) CA program, LiftFund has provided 133 loans totaling $17.2 million since 2012. And just this past year, LiftFund San Antonio was awarded a grant through the Office of Veterans Business Development to provide entrepreneurial training for women veterans.

Without the referral, the couple would most likely have stopped their dreams – or even depleted their financial wealth

“If it wasn’t for LiftFund, we wouldn’t be where we are now,” said Shelenia. “We are here to change lives and grow.”

Today, Krack of Dawn donuts offers more than 40 flavors and varieties of Southern dishes. Looking forward, they hope to continue empowering families and individuals – especially other veterans and service members seeking to pave their own civilian paths.

If you’re a military spouse, veteran, or service member interested in starting, purchasing, or growing a business, SBA’s ecosystem supports your path to finding your moment that matters. Visit to find out how.

Do you have a moment that matters to share with OVBD? We want to hear it! Share your story with us using the hashtag #MyVetBiz on Twitter and Facebook.

OSD CEO & Executive Director Glenn Banton is an appointed member of the Advisory Committee on Veteran Business Affairs (ACVBA) providing an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the SBA administrator, SBA associate administrator for the Office of Veterans Business Development, Congress, the President and other U.S. policymakers on programs affecting veteran-owned small business from all segments of American society.