Explore the landscape of veteran small business loans and grants, providing invaluable free funding for launching or expanding your business. Discover competitive yet rewarding application processes, along with alternative financing options and valuable resources to empower your entrepreneurial journey.
Veteran business grants provide complementary funding to support the initiation or expansion of your business, offering an alternative to repaying small-business loans or other debt-based financing options.
While the process of applying for small-business grants may be competitive and time-intensive, the potential benefits are substantial if you successfully secure the funds. Below are our recommendations for places where veteran business owners can explore small-business grants, accompanied by additional financing alternatives and no-cost resources to assist you in managing your enterprise.
- The second service foundation:
The Second Service Foundation, formerly known as the StreetShares Foundation, orchestrates the Military Entrepreneur Challenge, offering veterans and their spouses a platform to pitch and secure grants for their businesses. To enter the pitch challenge, start by registering online and participating in a speed coaching session. Following that, complete an application, including a one-pager about your business.
Upon acceptance into the competition, craft a 2-minute pitch for your business to be presented in person at a Second Service Foundation conference. During the event, three finalists will deliver live pitches, and the winner will be determined by an audience vote. Grant prizes vary based on the specific event and location. It’s a unique opportunity for veteran entrepreneurs to showcase their ventures and vie for valuable support.
2. Warrior rising:
Warrior Rising, a nonprofit dedicated to aiding veterans in transitioning to “vetrepreneurs,” oversees a comprehensive six-step business development program. This initiative encompasses essential elements such as training, coaching, mentoring, and networking. Throughout this process, veterans stand a chance to showcase their business ideas and contend for a startup business grant.
To be eligible, applicants must be veterans or immediate family members and complete the requisite application. Warrior Rising welcomes applications from both startups and established businesses, fostering an inclusive environment for veterans seeking entrepreneurial opportunities.
3. Feed the Soul Foundation’s restaurant business development program.
If you operate a food-based enterprise, you may qualify for the Restaurant Business Development Program administered by the Feed the Soul Foundation. Upon acceptance, businesses will benefit from six months of consultation and training services along with a financial stipend. In addition to prioritizing military veteran-owned businesses, this program gives preference to business owners falling into specific categories: Black, Indigenous, or Latinx; senior citizens; LGBTQ+ individuals; people with disabilities; and those with a history of incarceration. Eligible businesses must be U.S.-based and have been operational for a minimum of two years. Applications for the current cohort are being accepted until January 31, 2024.
4. Chicagoland Job Creators Quest grant
Businesses based in Illinois have the opportunity to qualify for this grant program, which is set to allocate a total of $100,000 in funding. To be eligible, your business must either be situated in a low-to-moderate income area or be founded by an individual falling into one of the following categories: a military veteran, an LGBTQ+ identifying person, or someone who is Black, Asian, or Latinx.
Additional criteria for eligibility encompass the requirement for the business to be for-profit, employ a minimum of two individuals, operate as a business-to-business company, and generate annual revenue ranging from $100,000 to $5 million. Applications are currently open and will be accepted until February 6, 2024.
5. FedEx small business grant contest
Each year, this competition grants $30,000 to 10 business owners, with an extra $20,000 awarded to a veteran entrepreneur selected from the grand prize winners. To qualify, your business should be for-profit, have fewer than 99 employees, and possess a valid FedEx business shipping account number. The next cycle is set to commence in 2024.
6. Farmer Veteran Fellowship fund
Providing financial aid to veterans launching farming or ranching businesses, this small-business grant is specifically designed for those in the initial phases of their ventures. To be eligible for this program, initiated in 2011, membership in the Farmer Veteran Coalition is a prerequisite. The upcoming application period is scheduled to run from January 3 to February 14, 2024.
7. Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur lab
In Michigan, veteran small-business owners can benefit from the Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur Lab at Grand Valley State University. This three-month initiative provides startup training and networking opportunities tailored for veteran entrepreneurs and their spouses. Throughout the program, participants gear up for their business launch by identifying potential customers, leveraging the right tools, and engaging with industry experts. The MVE-Lab culminates in a pitch competition where successful entrepreneurs are granted small-business awards.
8. Texas Women’s University Veteran Woman Entrepreneur Grant.
The Small-Business Grant Program, provided by the Center for Women Entrepreneurs at Texas Woman’s University, specifically targets female veterans initiating or managing businesses. This annual program bestows $5,000 grants upon up to 25 business owners across Texas. The winners for 2023 were disclosed in May.
These grants serve a range of purposes, including equipment, machinery, or technology acquisitions, funding marketing or advertising campaigns, and supporting property improvements. To be eligible, you must furnish documentation demonstrating that your business is 51% or more women-owned or -controlled, along with proof of your veteran status.
9. National Association for Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants.
In its 17th year, the NASE Growth Grants program welcomes applications quarterly, providing businesses with the opportunity to secure $4,000 grants. Membership in NASE is a prerequisite for application, but veterans benefit from a 15% discount on the annual fee and can promptly apply for the grant program upon joining the organization.
10. Small business innovation research and small business technology transfer programs
The SBIR and SBTT programs offer small-business grants to veteran-owned businesses (as well as other companies) that are looking to contribute to federal research and development. The U.S. Small Business Administration, or SBA, coordinates these programs, and 11 federal agencies list grant opportunities on the SBIR website. Funding amounts vary based on the individual grant.
To qualify, you must have a for-profit business focused on technological innovation and research with the intent of commercialization. Your business must also be U.S.-based and have no more than 500 employees.
11. Southern California Job Creators grant
Businesses situated in Southern California have the opportunity to qualify for this grant, offering funding of up to $100,000. Eligible businesses should be established by individuals falling into specific categories, including military veterans, women, Black, Asian, Latinx, or LBGTQ+. These businesses must be located in one of the following regions: Los Angeles, Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Imperial, or San Diego. The application period concluded on November 13, 2023, and pre-registration for the upcoming 2024 cycle is anticipated to open soon.
12. Beyond open small business grant program
The Beyond Open Grant program welcomes entrepreneurs based in Charlotte, North Carolina, representing underrepresented backgrounds such as veterans, minorities, women, LGBTQ+ individuals, and individuals with disabilities. Grants, starting at $10,000, are awarded through this initiative, with Round 3 anticipated to open in 2024.
13. Incfile fresh start business grant
Locating startup grants can be more challenging compared to grants available for established businesses. The Incfile Fresh Start Business Grant presents a viable opportunity for ex-military individuals embarking on entrepreneurial ventures. The selected recipient will secure $2,500 for initiating their business, accompanied by complimentary formation services from Incfile. While all 2023 deadlines have elapsed, stay tuned for the announcement of 2024 deadlines in the upcoming months.
14. Venmo small business grant
Accessible to all Venmo business users, not exclusive to veterans, the Venmo Small Business Grant program allocates $10,000 in grants to a maximum of 20 entrepreneurs. To qualify, your business should have no more than ten employees and generate less than $50,000 in annual revenue.
Grants.gov is a comprehensive database housing over 1,000 federal grant programs provided by various government agencies, including the Department of Labor, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Department of Commerce. To pursue one of these small-business grants, it’s crucial to ensure your business aligns with all eligibility criteria and to register for a Grants.gov account. While these business grants are not specifically tailored to veteran entrepreneurs, this database serves as a valuable starting point for those seeking accessible funding opportunities.
What financial assistance options are available for veteran-owned businesses?
Veteran-owned businesses have access to various financial assistance options, including small business loans, grants, and special programs designed to support their entrepreneurial endeavors.
How can veterans apply for small business loans?
Veterans can apply for small business loans through traditional lenders, banks, credit unions, or explore government-backed loan programs like the SBA’s Veterans Advantage program.
Are there grants specifically for veteran entrepreneurs?
Yes, there are grants specifically tailored for veteran entrepreneurs. Organizations like the StreetShares Foundation, Warrior Rising, and government programs provide grants to support veteran-owned businesses.
What is the eligibility criteria for veteran small business loans and grants?
Eligibility criteria vary depending on the specific loan or grant program. Generally, veterans need to provide proof of military service and meet certain business-related requirements.
Can veterans apply for SBA loans?
Yes, veterans can apply for SBA loans. The Small Business Administration offers various loan programs, and veterans may be eligible for specific advantages, such as reduced fees and interest rates.
How can veterans find information about available grants?
Veterans can find information about available grants through government websites, veteran support organizations, and online resources. Additionally, contacting local Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) can provide valuable guidance.
Are there special loan programs for disabled veteran entrepreneurs?
Yes, there are special loan programs, such as the SBA’s Patriot Express Loan, that provide financial assistance to disabled veteran entrepreneurs.
Can veterans receive assistance with business training and mentorship?
Yes, many programs offer business training and mentorship for veterans. Organizations like SCORE, Bunker Labs, and the Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) provide valuable resources.
How long does the application process for veteran business loans and grants typically take?
The application process duration varies depending on the specific program. It can range from a few weeks to several months. Timely completion and accuracy of documentation can expedite the process.
What support is available for veteran spouses interested in starting a business?
Several organizations and programs extend support to veteran spouses interested in starting a business, offering resources, training, and networking opportunities.
Veteran small business loans and grants play a crucial role in empowering and supporting the entrepreneurial aspirations of military veterans. The diverse range of financial assistance options, including loans with favorable terms and grants tailored to veteran entrepreneurs, reflects a commitment to fostering economic success within the veteran community.
As veterans embark on their entrepreneurial journeys, it’s essential to stay informed about available programs, eligibility criteria, and application processes. Whether seeking loans through traditional channels or exploring specialized grants, veterans have access to a wealth of resources designed to facilitate business growth.
Moreover, the ongoing dedication of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and private initiatives highlights the recognition of the valuable contributions veterans make to the business landscape. The FAQs provided offer insights into common queries surrounding veteran small business loans and grants, aiming to guide and support veterans in navigating these financial opportunities.
Ultimately, by leveraging the available financial support, mentorship programs, and training resources, veterans can not only achieve their entrepreneurial goals but also contribute significantly to the economic landscape, creating successful and sustainable businesses.