10 Small Business Grants & Loans for Veterans

10 Small Business Grants & Loans for Veterans

10 Small Business Grants & Loans for Veterans

The 18.2 million military veterans in the United States have made remarkable sacrifices in their service and deserve all the appreciation they receive and more. Their time in the military and the skills they’ve developed give them a distinct perspective, which they can use to start amazing businesses. Like any person trying to start their own business, veterans need funding to get things off the ground. Multiple institutions offer small business grants for military veterans.

Generally, to qualify for federal grants, government grants, or other grants for military veterans or financing, you must fall into one of the following categories:

  • Honorably Discharged Veterans (some grants may specify a particular conflict or time period, e.g. post-9/11 era)
  • Service-Disabled Veterans
  • Active Duty Military service member participating in the military’s Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
  • Reservists and National Guard Members; or
  • Current spouse of any Veteran, Active Duty service member, or any Reservist or National Guard member; or widowed spouse of a service member who died while in service or of a service-connected disability.

If you fall into one or more of the above categories, here are some possible options for you to finance or move your business along.

1. SBA Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan 

The 7(a) loan is the Small Business Association’s primary and most popular program. With longer terms and potentially lower down payments than other financing options, it’s a great option when you’re looking for capital for your small business. Typically, the SBA, or many other lenders, require an upfront guarantee fee. For SBA 7(a) loans made to qualifying Veteran owned businesses under $125,000, the upfront guarantee fee will be $0.

As the loan amount goes up, the SBA may still require a fee, but at a discounted rate compared to those for non-veteran owned businesses.

2. Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL)

In the situation that an essential employee has been called to active duty, the business may qualify for MREIDL. Funds from this loan program can be used to “provide the amount of working capital needed by a small business to pay its necessary obligations as they mature until operations return to normal after the essential employee is released from active military duty.”

The loan amount can be up to $2 million based on the SBA’s assessment, and any loans over $50,000 collateral, in the form of real estate when possible.

3. StreetShares Foundation 

StreetShares Foundation was established with veteran entrepreneurs in mind. Apart from offering lines of credit, term loans, and government-contract financing to cover the cost of payroll and equipment before invoices are paid. This year, they awarded $15,000 after an application period to a veteran-owned small business. Keep an eye on them for future reward opportunities and check out their current financing options.

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4. Hivers and Strivers Angel Fund

Hivers and Strivers is an angel fund looking to assist military academy graduates with their startups. Their investments range from $250,000 to $1 million per round, and they may syndicate with other groups for larger investments. If you’re a graduate of one of the military academies and have a small business idea, you can make your submission on their website.

5. VA Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU)

The Department of Veterans Affairs offers potential assistance to businesses owned by economically disadvantaged individuals through their Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Program. Their goal as a department is to provide these businesses with as many government contracts as possible. While these are not government grants or loans, these contracts could mean money in the bank if your business qualifies.

Be sure to register with their office. Once your business has been verified, it will be added to their directory of small businesses and could be called upon for a government contract.

6. Nav’s Small Business Grant

Nav understands the challenges of starting, financing, and running a small business. To give small business owners a lift, Nav recently launched the $10,000 “Legitify Your Small Business” grant. While you don’t have to be a veteran to apply, we’d love to hear about your small business. Keep an eye out for the next application round to open, and check your business and personal credit score for free with Nav.

7. VA Small Business Grants 

Meant for non-profit organizations, Department of Veterans Affairs Small Business Grants are aimed at helping military veterans get their operations up and running. Like any other grant money, this does not have to be repaid, but will require strict compliance on the part of your business. Be sure to review the guidelines before applying to be sure your business is in compliance.

8. VA VR&E Business Ownership Track

If you suffer from a service-connected disability and have the desire and plan to run your own business, you could qualify for assistance from the Vocational Rehab & Employment Ownership Track. Along with the requirements listed above, you must have an employment barrier or handicap, be enrolled in the VR&E, and your disability must make it difficult for you to obtain suitable employment.

Be sure to check the requirements and application to see if you could get help getting your business off the ground.

9. Service-Disabled, Veteran-Owned Small Business Program

Similar to the VA’s OSDBU program, the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program aims to provide businesses owned by veteran entrepreneurs with contracting dollars. The federal government sets aside at least 3 percent of contracting dollars for set-aside contracts for small businesses owned by disabled veterans. Again, while these contracts aren’t government grants, they can help a struggling business get on their feet.

Just like the OSDBU, you should apply for verification through the program before being added to a directory to be considered for assistance or certain contracts.

10. LendingClub Veteran Loan

LendingClub is one of many private lenders offering special benefits for veterans. Their small business loan for veterans has a term of one-to-five years, with borrowing limits of $5,000 to $300,000. You must have a credit score of at least 600 and a business that has been in operation for at least two years with annual revenue of at least $50,000.

Other Resources

While funding via grants or small business loans is often top of mind for any small business owner, there are other resources that can help veterans looking to start a business or level up. Veteran-owned businesses can seek out their local veterans business outreach centers for various resources for veterans, including training programs for adjusting to civilian life, technical assistance, business training, and other tools that may not be available at traditional small business development centers.

They may also have more information on VA loans including VA business loans, various grant programs, and ways to help your business dream get rolling.

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This article was updated on January 16, 2020.

This article was originally written on January 16, 2020 and updated on June 25, 2020.

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Connor Wilson

Connor Wilson is Nav's Content Manager. With experience in loan underwriting and credit review, he brings a strong desire to help business owners make the best financial decisions possible to every piece he writes and edits.

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94 responses to “10 Small Business Grants & Loans for Veterans

  1. I’m 38 at 50 percent service connected I just dunno where to start to get funding, I’m a superintendent on a pipeline and a great metal fabricator , id really like to
    Work for myself I seem to keep making everyone else rich , I just dunno how to get the help to get started , have 20 years to experience

    1. Nav does not offer those services. You may want to reach out to your local Veteran Business Center or SBDC to find out about local resources. Visit SBA.gov/tools to find your local SBA resource partners.

  2. I have a problem, I served 45 years and I am also a disabled Veteran, I can be up and running with $750,000, and can make my own payment until then for as long as it takes, Why is it impossible to get any answers or HELP

  3. I’m 50%VA and P&T with SSDI in my mid 50’s and I’m wanting start a restaurant in University town where I can get added to meal badges as with preferred status as a disabled veteran in SC or Ga with starting an LLC from scratch. But, my son has experience in F&B with everything lined up . I have recipes that I’ve created that Chef’s and restaurant owners have wanted the recipe. I know it can affect my SSDI income but I go to the VA for all my healthcare anyway.. I have the key staff members available, chefs, managers and my son who’s done everything in a restaurant will eventually own the place. He’s recently has gone into a restaurant to manage that was doing $7500 a week in sales to $31,000. My background is direct sales , building territory and start ups with straight commission.

  4. I am interested in the grants, but not sure which one, I am service connected hard to find employment that lets me take breaks when im in pain. so ive decided to start my own business.

    1. Im a honorably discharged Vet. Im interested in building and operating a bowling alley, is there a Vet organization that may be able to assist me in my quest ?

  5. I am a retired Army NurseI would like to know more about you. I never leave my SS # without knowing more about you. I am a 90% disabled Veteran. I have a medical nursing school that offers 10 fast tract certification classes. I also have been teaching Certification Nursing Assistant classes for 6 years and just added the other classes. I am also non profit. I need financial assistance with hiring a paying staff, and addition equipment.

  6. PRE-911 era veteran with zero capital and one fantastic idea for starting a small business writing mobile apps (I am a software developer). Single mother of two school age boys, receiving no child support. No family within 3000 miles (the military has a way of landing you far from home). Honorably discharged. Disabled but not service disabled. Excellent credit score but drowning in debt. I should have given up and claimed bankruptcy a long time ago. But I’ve just been too proud. I don’t fit neatly into any category. And yet, I somehow have fallen through the cracks.

  7. I am a Navy vet, by trade I functioned as an electrical contractor. As a 100% disabled vet,I purchased a 119 year old building downtown.The historical preservation approach goes into the design, which has been approved by the authority having jurisdiction. Now need funds to purchase materials. The town has given me until May to complete repairs, as it has been condemned. This my piece of Americana, which I encourage all voters to engage. If not us,who?

  8. I am running a start up family run produce stand in Loganville GA. I am a USN veteran at 30% disability with a special needs 6 year old. I can’t seem to get any help from the government and although my business is staying above water, the fall and winter are very tough in this business. We only opened in middle August and had very good profit margins for the first month and a half. The spring and summer are no problem but a grant or loan to get me through the off season may be the difference between us failing or succedding. Any assistance would truly be a blessing.

  9. I have a small auto repair shop. I want to change it to a shop to teach veterans to be auto techs. I’m a honorably discharged veteran. I’ve been in business for almost 12 years now. I’ve been in auto repair for 38 years. I feel I’ll need help with workmen insurance. Is there any grant that I can apply for that will help with this venture.

  10. I am 90% service connected. I want to start my own military surplus store. I was told to try to start small by getting a kiosk in a local mall. Is there anyway to get start up capital in the form of a grant for that and then try to venture out to a franchise of Army Navy surplus . Would grants be available for that.

  11. My name is Ryan. I am a combat vet. I am going to school for gun smithing and want to use this grant money for a store front and new machines that will help me be ahead of any gun shop.

  12. I am a 60% disabled vet and looking to go into business with an established heating and air company. The business has great potential for expansion as the only other HVAC business in the county, which had about 80 employees recently was run into the ground by new, inept management. The business I’m looking to run has about $100K income per year with only one employee. Need help with buying a bigger shop, increasing employees and equipment. I would be the program manager with day to day management decisions. Is there a program out there that can help me with the costs?

  13. I am a veteran with no disability. I have an interest in creating my own plastic recycling business here in New York. I built my prototype of my own. I need help with funding

  14. My name is Arturo, I am a 30% disabled rated veteran who is a teacher of 10 years. I currently have an opportunity to be apart of an acquisition of two hotels that are cash flowing and at 67% and 72% occupancy. I want to start my business in commercial/residential business….. I have 75% financing for acquisition and 15-20% equity partner. I need assistance in closing out the remaining 5-10% equity to close and was wondering if I could use some sort of VA SBA loan to help me get rolling. My Credit scores range from 637-689 Experian and Equifax respectively…… please advise and or direct me to potential avenues as I am looking to leave the classroom and build a business that will help impact communities and help assist vets with low income housing. Thank you for the time and consideration! Have a blessed day


  15. My name is Bobby White. I am a Navy Gulf War Veteran. I am currently not a business owner. I do have 7 different ideas for patents and production. My credit is good. I do not have any experience starting or running a business. Where would be my best starting point? I have researched patents and know the application fee can be expensive. I think i’m really looking for a financial partner to do a 60/40 split. Any ideas or suggestions.

  16. I’m a 100 porcent disabled veteran and I’m interested on getting a car customs industry I have a lot of experience and I do a great job at it. I’m just trying to find out how to get a grant to start my own business please

    1. Jose,

      My best suggestion for you is to find a mentor to help guide you through starting your own business. The Boots to Business offered through the U.S. Small Business Administration would be a great place to start. In addition, you can get a free SCORE mentor and get training at your local Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Here is the SBA local assistance locator to find a mentor. These are great programs I believe will be beneficial in many ways. You may be able to start your business without a grant, and you can find out about local grant programs through them.

      And thank you so much for your service to our country.

  17. I am a veteran and am looking to buy 2 or 3 triaxles to start my own fleet I have the work and a broker on board to keep the wheels turning I have been driving for years and would like to get my own I am tired of making other people’s dreams come true

  18. I’m a veteran and want to start a small pressure washer business. I would like to know are they any grants that can help me. I already have a few clients but want to Establish myself more into the business world.

  19. I am interested in finding out more about some of the grants that are available for starting up a project to help the men and women who have fallen on hard times by putting together a company that send them out around major cities ,picking up the trash that seems to be an eye sore,that never gets cleaned up.

    1. Eldon, It’s great that you want to help the less fortunate. There may not be grants specifically for the venture you want to start. You’ll need to use the resources listed in this article to start identifying opportunities that may be a fit.

  20. Hi! I’m a Disabled Veteran….100 percent disabled. I’m going to start a nonprofit boxing program for at risk youth and Veteran. Since I’m 100 percent disabled are there entitys out there that would help me write my business plan and obtain my 501c3? Thank you.

  21. Want to help my daughter build a funeral business. So veterans will be able to afford a decent funeral. I am a disabled Vietnam veteran.

  22. I’m a honorably discharged Navy veteran and I’m trying to get information on how to get a grant for a small business…

  23. All the Information looks good but I dis not see anything on there to help me know how do I get help.

  24. Am a veteran with a business one of my suppliers went bankrupt on me (Windstream) and has not paid us. I need emergency money to pay bills while I try to make up this non self imposed loss.

  25. I am a Marine Corp Vet, Honorably discharge. I started my business almost 2 years ago, but have 2 years of income tax for the business. I need a loan or grant to expand and get more equipment, or simply just working capital. I started my business with very limited funds, and still going by the grace of God. My biggest issues is cash flow, because some invoices are paid by insurance carriers, and the process can take up to 3 to 6 months or even up to 1 year. Where can I go to get advise / financial help.

    1. Congrats on making it to the two year mark with your business. That alone is an accomplishment! Nav is here to help you understand your financing options. We’re a marketplace, not a lender. Start by getting a free Nav account here. You’ll see financing options instantly but you are also welcome to talk with Nav’s Credit & Lending team. They can help you understand your options and figure out which ones are right for your business.

      In addition, I’d suggest you check out our free eguide and webinar that will also help you understand what may be available to your business: Where’s the Money? The Top Ten Sources for Financing and How to Qualify

  26. A service-connected disabled veteran and the caregiver of a service connected disabled veteran for many years. I have a home with land and want to create a place in which I can offer down time for caregivers whom I know need a break. Even though I had around the clock care, for my husband, I still found it difficult to leave and take a break from caring for my husband. Objective would include but not be limited to: over night stays, providing picnics, dinners, and a place in which families can enjoy carefree meals, games and treats to allow downtime. Would also provide social workers and counselors to help families understand it is best when other family members assist because one person can become burned out. Additionally, would like to provide assistance to caregivers in accessing the required care, equipment and services for their loved ones who have given so much but often times do not know where to seek assistance.

  27. I want to start my business as a travel writer. I have a business plan, a budget plan, a target audience, a target source and (most of) my own equipment, along with writing experience. What I don’t have is $$$ to get started. I am not interested in any loans. I am an honorably discharged veteran with a 4-year degree, but I owe big on student loans. What I also don’t know is how to get started. But the big problem is having $$$. What do you suggest?

  28. I am a disabled vet, who does security on the side and I am needing a grant to purchase a ride so I can do my job. I have limited income and my credit score is poor 500 to 600. Is there any help out there.

  29. I am a Honorably Discharged Navy vet with a service connected disability and with several disabilities.
    I have a beacon score much higher
    Than That is recommended.
    I am already getting my business started an have several clients and a Broker that I will meet with on the 28th of March 2019. I would like to speak with someone in regards to my Business. Thank you.

  30. I am a honorably discharged navy vet that is looking for info on starting my own business. Don’t know exactly where to start this process and who to talk to.

  31. Hello all,

    I am a 100% disabled Vet, I want to start up a drive though coffee shop and was wondering if there are any programs outthere that can help me fund my project any information would be great thank you.

  32. We are a service disabled vetetan owned
    Company. We will start assembling Led
    Lighting with our vetetan owned UL & DLC
    We plan to offer our VeterNs a 3 year training
    Appreciate course for assembling ,testing ,and installing LED lights .
    We are looking for ideas for start up grant we need $1 million and have a business plan.
    In 5 years we plan to put 50 veterans under hands on training paying them a living wage.
    Disabled or handicapped welcome .

  33. im looking to start my own automovitive detail shop and im 100% service connected and im still in the planning process and ill need help with start up

  34. I am a disabled veteran with a total disability rating of 100% rated as unemployable, (not able to retain gainful employment.) as it is stated under the unemployablility definition. My wife retired this year and is under 65 so all she has is her retirement from work. she stared a before and after school program to supplement her retirement, and it has taken off very well. However I have some older vehicles that we are using for the transportation part of this program, and we really need some newer equipment. The fact that this is basically a daycare type of business I was hoping we could find a way to get into some short term financing that would allow us small payments and a low interest rate. Our problem is we are overextended with our finances right now and it is hindering our expansion into this making this business impact our community as we would have hoped when starting this program. A grant would be great, but a small inexpensive loan would help tremendously, any suggestions would be helpful

  35. Hello,
    I have started my own LLC, obtained my EIN and tax paperwork. I have affiliated with legalzoom to help with this process. I am currently at the “SBL” stage and was curious about grants first (for obvious reason). I have spent 10 years in the United States Marine Corps and received my honorable discharge in 2013. My business is escape rooms. I know this may seem a fad, but mine are different; I want real life scenarios, historical rooms (John F. Kennedy, MLK Jr, etc.) We will also have an escape room for kids ages 7-12 years old (these rooms will not be locked) that last 30 minutes and is school subject specific; i.e, math, science, history, hand/eye coordination, and learning to work as a team, not knowing they are working as a team.
    I am 80% disabled, but does not hinder me from having a civilian job, so the VR&E business ownership track is not an option. I am currently looking into the SDVOSBP; but not sure where to go from here.
    There is already a location that I am looking to purchase (prior escape room) that has all the assets, so my 100k business loan will be for assets only, not entity.

    Is there anymore support or direction you can provide? I currently have a mentor from SCORE who has helped tremendously and the advice from legal counsel and accounting from legalzoom. If there is anymore data/info that someone could provide, I would be much obliged. Thanks!

    1. It sounds like you have a solid plan and it’s great you’re working with a SCORE mentor. Do you have a Nav account? If not, I’d suggest you get a free Nav account here then schedule a time to talk with our Credit & Lending Specialists to go over your options. No pressure at all, and they can help you understand what’s available. (Nav is a marketplace, not a lender, and we help business owners find financing from a variety of sources.)

      Wishing you the best for your business!

  36. My husband has a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He has a background in electronics, manufacturing maintenance mostly in the textile field. He is a Navy vet with a hearing disability and is unable to find an job with local employers due to his hearing loss.Many have said they can not hire him due to OSHA guidelines.

  37. Hi I’m female veteran, served in the Navy from 2003-2011, Honorably discharded and service connected disable. I would like to start my own business but I don’t know what are the steps to follow or how to go about it. I’m in New Jersey, Hudson county area to be more precise. I will appreciate any info/help you can send my way to get me started. Also, is it better to get and LLC lisence firt before applying for grants or it doesn’t matter?

    1. I would strongly encourage you to form your business entity (LLC, for example) from the start. If you don’t, it’s impossible to really separate your business and personal finances.

      But your question makes it sound like you are not quite at the state of launching your business yet. To get there, you can take advantage of free resources available through SCORE, SBDC, WOBC, and/or VOBC. These organizations all offer free or very low-cost consulting. Use the SBA local assistance locator to find help in your area.

      Thank you for your service and we wish you the best.

  38. My partner and I are trying to launch our IT Consulting organization. We are both service-connected disabled veterans. The company is woman owed she owns 52% of the company. For the most part we are trying to get grants or crowdfunding to launch our company. Also, we have register with S.A.M. and awaiting our CAGE code to register with SBA. We could use all the helpful advice.

  39. Hello, I am a Service Connected Disabled Veteran, located in West-Michigan, Looking for start up capitol. I am not begging for a grant, Just looking for a way to accomplish this largest of hurdles with no success.
    I have spoken with several individuals to get various perspectives and they have hall told me it is a need in every community.
    I am a traditional Veteran, past deployment bills and Bad credit. What can I do?

    Thank you!

    1. Dan,

      I’d suggest you first contact your
      Veteran Business Outreach Center. It’s in Flint so that may be too far for you to want to go in person, but I’d encourage you to find out what they offer. Secondly, Michigan has a great Small Business Development Center (SBDC). Nav has presented several webinars for them. I’d encourage you to reach out to them too. And finally check with your local SCORE chapter. Your goal is to connect with someone who can help you figure out how to make your business a reality. Use the SBA local assistance locator to find help in your area.

      And thank you so much for your service.

      1. Thank you Gerri,
        I have read your responses and they are very directive. My spouse and I have a small business for 3 years now and looking for grant to expand it. it is a Hair Salon

        1. Thanks for your kind words. In addition to looking for grants I’d encourage you to investigate small business financing options as well. Grants are great but there aren’t as many available as there are financing programs.

  40. I want to reopen my small cafe business that has been closed for two years. I am an Army Vet 1956,57,58 Hon discharge. What will I need to apply, and what is the min. loan SBA loan amount?

    1. Charles, the SBA guarantees a variety of types of loans, including microloans. (The average microloan is about $11,000.)

      There are so many different factors that go into loan approval, I’d recommend two things:

      1. Read our free SCORE eguide we created with various lending options: Where’s the Money? The Top Ten Sources for Financing and How to Qualify

      2. Sign up for a free Nav account then reach out to our Credit & Lending Specialists who will be happy to help you, no pressure.

      3. Get help from your local SCORE chapter or SBDC office. Use the SBA local assistance locator to find help in your area.

      I hope things work out for you and thank you for your service.

  41. My spouse is a veteran and we would like to find out about a grant and loan to open up our business . We want to start a new journey soon.

    1. Grants are great but I’d also encourage you to get a mentor and look into ways to start your business without just relying on grant money. Meet with your local Veteran-owned Business Center, Small Business Development Center or SCORE to get ideas on how you can get started.

      And feel free to check out the newest Nav small business grant!

    1. I’d offer the same advice I shared here with Peter and Lavaris – look for grants but don’t let that stop you from starting. Free help is available through SCORE, SBDCs, VBOCs and other organizations.