Veteran entrepreneurs have a major impact on the small company environment despite their modest number. And, like many other company owners, they may need business loans or other kinds of financing to help them start or expand their venture.
Veterans controlled 2.5 million small companies in the United States in 2019, accounting for 9.15 percent of all enterprises in the nation. Several government agencies, charities, and other groups help military entrepreneurs in obtaining small business grants for veterans as a show of faith, appreciation, and support.
In this post, we’ll go through 12 of the most respected grants and tools for veterans and military families looking to start a company.
Veterans have access to a number of small business grant and financing opportunities.
As previously said, finding and applying for small business grants for veterans on your own may be challenging. We’ll show you seven government-run business centers, agencies, courses, and independent organizations and platforms that may assist with that process, as well as provide information on additional business funding options for vets, in the sections ahead.
Hivers and Strivers are two types of people.
First and foremost, Hivers and Strivers is an angel investment firm that funds businesses established by alumni of the United States Military Academies. In a single fundraising round, Hivers and Strivers typically spends between $250,000 and $1 million.
To apply for assistance from Hivers and Strivers, go to their website and fill out an online application.
Small Business Program for Service-Disabled Veterans
Every year, the federal government intends to set aside 3% of its contracting budget for small companies owned by service-disabled veterans. To be eligible for this program, your company must fulfill the following criteria:
Follow the Small Business Administration’s definition of a small business.
One or more service-disabled veterans must own and control at least 51 percent of the company.
One or more service-disabled veterans should be in charge of day-to-day operations as well as long-term planning.
Veterans must have a service-connected disability to be eligible.
If your company fulfills these criteria, you may register as a service-disabled veteran-owned business on SAM.gov, the government’s online system for submitting federal contract applications.
Loans and the Street Shares Foundation
The StreetShares Foundation, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, was founded by a group of military entrepreneurs and their supporters with the goal of “inspiring, educating, and supporting the military business community.”
Their grant program, which grants up to $15,000 to veteran entrepreneurs, is one of the most important ways they fight for military-owned companies; this year, they supported a Female Founders Veteran Small Business Award Grant Program. Applications are judged on the social effect of the company on the military community, the personal background of the business owner, and how the applicant intends to utilize grant money. Although the deadline for this year’s StreetShares grant program has gone, it’s worth thinking about applying in 2021.
Another alternative is to apply for a loan via the Street Shares Foundation, which is run by Street Shares, a veteran-owned online lending platform. The platform isn’t specifically created for veteran-owned companies, but it does provide three kinds of loans tailored to vets: term loans up to $250,000, lines of credit up to $250,000, and contract finance.
Small Business Grants from Warrior Rising
Warrior Rising is a nonprofit organization that provides seminars, training, and grants to aspiring veteran business owners to help them pay starting costs.
You must do a phone interview and talk with staff members about your history in order to join Warrior Rising. After that, you’ll have to take a virtual course. Warrior Rising will then provide mentoring and help with grant funding possibilities after the project is finished.
Veteran Employment and Readiness
Service-disabled veterans who are unable to work in a conventional workplace are eligible for training and grant money to establish their own companies or assist with job training via the Veteran Readiness and Employment program.
Veterans who are interested must fill out an application. After students submit their applications, they will be evaluated to see whether they satisfy the program’s qualifying criteria. They will be able to attend an orientation session and learn more about the program if they fulfill the criteria.
Grants for Small Business Innovation Research
The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which is not limited to veteran small companies, offers grant money to small enterprises that develop technical breakthroughs. There are two kinds of SBIR grants: Phase I and Phase II. Businesses that need financing to determine their commercial feasibility are eligible for Phase I awards. These awards are non-dilutive and range from $50,000 to $150,000.
You’ll be eligible for a Phase II award if you obtained a Phase I grant and successfully demonstrated that your concept is feasible. Phase II funds are awarded depending on the results of your Phase I study, and you may get up to $1 million over two years.
Your company must be for-profit, majority-owned by US citizens or permanent residence aliens, and employ less than 500 people to be eligible for an SBIR award. If you satisfy those requirements, you’ll be able to submit a proposal to the SBIR program’s RFP site, which will include essential documentation regarding your company.
GrantWatch is number seven.
Check out GrantWatch, a free website that collects all federal, regional, and local grants for small companies, veterans, and charities, to keep up to speed on the newest veteran grant possibilities. GrantWatch is an important resource for veteran and non-veteran company owners equally, since it is updated daily with the most recent grants.
Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization
The US Department of Veterans Affairs’ Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) is primarily responsible for assisting veterans in obtaining government contracting opportunities. The OSDBU website, on the other hand, is a one-stop shop for veteran entrepreneurs seeking assistance with almost every element of establishing, operating, and funding their companies.
The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal is a particularly useful resource in this regard, since it brings together information to assist entrepreneurs discover and apply for government contracts, seek franchising possibilities, and access training and employment programs for veterans, among other things.
Get Down to Business
Boots to Business, a free entrepreneurship course offered by the SBA as part of the Department of Defense Transition Assistance Program, is one of the finest free entrepreneurship courses accessible for veterans and their spouses.
Introduction to Entrepreneurship and B2B Revenue Readiness are the two sections of this course. Participants in the former get the necessary skills, information, and resources to start a successful company. This course also provides information on how to get startup funding and contractual possibilities. The SBA is moving to virtual courses owing to COVID-19. Introduction to Entrepreneurship is usually given in person; however, due to COVID-19, the SBA is switching to virtual courses.
Participants may opt to continue their studies with B2B Revenue Readiness, a six-week online course provided via a collaboration with Mississippi State University, after they’ve finished this initial course. “This program trains participants to move their company idea from concept to an executable business model in a very short period of time,” according to the program’s description. This course, like Introduction to Entrepreneurship, is free and open to all veterans and military spouses.
Disaster Loan for Military Reservists with Economic Injuries
Because the owner or a key employee has been called up to active service, the SBA’s Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan helps small companies that are unable to pay their operational costs. The loan monies provide the company the operating cash it needs to keep going until the owner or employee returns from military duty. Unlike other SBA loans, monies are given directly by the SBA, rather than via an intermediate lender, as is the case with other SBA loans.
Loans of up to $2 million are available via the MREIDL program, with payback periods of up to 30 years and a 4% interest rate. For MREIDL loans above $50,000, collateral is needed. Businesses may apply for this loan up to one year after the employee receives notification of an impending call-up.
Veterinary Franchising Opportunities (VetFran)
Even though this isn’t a small business award for veterans, it’s worth looking into. There are many franchise possibilities for veterans and their spouses that provide significant financial incentives for joining a franchise system. The most common form of this incentive is for the franchisor to reduce or even eliminate the experienced franchisee’s first franchise fee.
If you’re looking to purchase a franchise (at a reduced price), go to the VetFran website and go via the Opportunities Portal. This gateway links you to the VetFran network’s 600+ franchises that provide discounts to veterans and military spouses.
Business Outreach Centers for Veterans
Veterans Business Outreach Centers (VBOCs), which are overseen by the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development, offer veterans and their spouses with the training and resources they need to start their own businesses—think business plan workshops, mentoring programs, and management training. Because they’re governed by the SBA, VBOCs may also assist you in identifying possible SBA loan possibilities, making loan recommendations, and putting together loan applications.
Although there are 22 VBOC centers throughout the nation, if you can’t find one near you, you may always call an office to see if they can offer remote help.
Grants for Veteran-Owned Businesses: How to Apply
Before you begin the grant application process, you must consider many factors, just as you would when applying for any other grant program. As you begin your search for the finest veteran small business grant, keep the following things in mind.
Discover Your Eligibility
Because not all veteran small business grants have the same qualifying criteria, you should spend some time studying them before applying. Keep in mind that certain veteran grant programs are exclusively accessible to honorably discharged veterans, while others cater to service-disabled or fledgling entrepreneurs, so keep that in mind as you narrow down your list of possible grants.
Make a Timetable
As a veteran, you’re undoubtedly used to completing projects on time and on budget. Because the grant application procedure may take a long time, we recommend that you prepare ahead. The more competitive a grant program is, the longer it takes to complete an application. Make time on your schedule a few weeks or months before the grant deadline to ensure you finish your application on time.
The 12 grant opportunities mentioned above are some of the finest and most recognized methods for veterans to get the training, support, and funding they need to establish their own businesses—but they’re far from the only options. The Institute for Veterans and Military Families, V-WISE, and Bunker Labs are a few additional organizations to check into for further help. You may also call or visit your local SBA chapter or SCORE office—they may be able to connect you with a business mentor who has transitioned into civilian life and has comparable experience.
Also, if you’re searching for complete entrepreneurship guidance, check out our veteran’s guide to establishing a company and our guide to veteran business financing. There are even more financing choices for veteran-owned companies there, including SBA loan programs tailored to veterans, active-duty military service members, reservists and national guard members, as well as military families.