10 Small Business Grants & Loans for Veterans

10 Small Business Grants & Loans for Veterans

The 21.8 million 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 capital to get things off the ground. Multiple institutions offer grants or financing options with specific benefits for veterans.

Generally, to qualify for veteran grants 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 loan over $50,000 requires collateral, in the form of real estate when possible.

3. StreetShares Foundation 

StreetShares Foundation was established with veteran small-business owners 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 this is not a financial grant or loan, the allocation of 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 businesses, Department of Veterans Affairs Small Business Grants are aimed at helping veterans get their operations up and running. Like any other grant, 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 certain businesses 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.

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

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

  1. We are a service disabled vetetan owned
    Company. We will start assembling Led
    Lighting with our vetetan owned UL & DLC
    Certification
    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 .
    WE ARE A VEYETAN POWERED COMPANY

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. 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!

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. 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.