Yes. There are numerous available grants for military veterans starting a business in the US. Many veterans leave military service with the experience and capabilities to start a new business enterprise. According to detailed reports, military veterans comprise around 7% of the adult population in the U.S. At the same time, they represent 9.1% of all American small businesses and generate $1 trillion annually in receipts.
Veterans indeed help to fuel the economy of the US. Howbeit, they always have to contend with certain challenges that can make it quite tasking to grow their businesses and obtain financing. Businesses owned by veterans tend to be underserved especially when it has to do with funding and grant opportunities. Owing to that, they need grants to get the funding they need to start or maintain their business.
There are non-profit organizations and government agencies in the United States that recognize this problem, and provide funding and grants to help veterans with the incentives they need to start their businesses. Note that the first step to getting a grant for your new or growing business is to find the right one for you. Owing to that, below are the best grant programs available to veterans in the United States.
Available Grants for Military Veterans Starting a Business
- Hivers and Strivers
- Street Shares Foundation Veteran Small Business Award
- Veteran Readiness and Employment
- Warrior Rising Small Business Grants
- Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
- Nav’s Small Business Grant
- Small Business Innovation Research Grants
- Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program for Disabled Vets
Hivers and Strivers
Hivers and Strivers is an angel investment group known to invest in veteran-owned and managed businesses. Note that they provide early-round investment funds through its Venture Capital for Veterans program. Funding opportunities range from $250,000 to $1 million. To apply, you will have to go through their platform. Have it in mind that the program focuses on veteran-led, early-stage companies with notable growth potential.
This is another grant opportunity for military veterans looking to start a business in the United States. The Street Shares Foundation grant program, the Veteran Small Business Award, makes available three grants through its Military Entrepreneur Challenge:
- First place: $15,000
- Second place: $6,000
- Third place: $4,000
Coupled with the cash awards, the first-place recipient also gets to leverage $25,000 worth of pro-bono legal service. Every other finalist also gets a $1,000 scholarship to the Synergy Learning Institute. First, second, and third place winners will also bag bigger scholarships ranging from $3,000 to $10,000.
Veteran Readiness and Employment
The Veteran Readiness and Employment program provides service-disabled veterans unable to work in a traditional employment environment with well-tailored training and grant funding to start their businesses. To apply, eligible veterans will first have to fill out an application.
Immediately after their applications are submitted, they will be evaluated to validate that they meet the program’s eligibility requirements. Once they meet the requirements, they are then allowed to participate in an orientation session to learn more about the program.
Warrior Rising Small Business Grants
The Warrior Rising Small Business Grants is another top option to consider. The nonprofit program, founded in Utah in 2015, offers both business grants and mentorship to qualifying veteran entrepreneurs. Note that you will have to apply online to become a “vetpreneur” in the Warrior Rising program.
Once the organization analyzes and accepts your application, you will be sent an onboarding email. Note that from there you can make arrangements for a phone call that will guide you through what to expect during the four-step business development program, such as business training through Warrior Academy, one-on-one mentoring, funding opportunities, and a place in the Warrior Community.
Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program
The Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Program is mainly for military veterans who were disabled while serving in the military. Have it in mind that the primary objective of the program is to help disabled veteran business owners obtain unrestricted access to at least 3% of available federal contract dollars every year. According to reports, certain federal contract funds are only available to members of the SDVOSB program.
To qualify to apply for this grant program, your veteran managed business will need to self-certify first. To complete this process, you will have to visit SAM.gov and update your business profile under the socio-economic status section. For VA contracts, you will be expected to reach out to the Center for Verification and Evaluation of certification.
This is a popular site for anyone looking for business grants in the United States. As a military veteran, GrantWatch can help you locate grant opportunities for business and personal purposes (including home buying and home improvement).
Have it in mind that its broad directory is home to more than 28,000 funding opportunities from a wide range of sources throughout the U.S., Canada, and the U.S. Territories. To access these opportunities and also apply for grants using the GrantWatch system, you need an active membership.
Note that the cost of the service will vary from around $18 per week to $199 per year depending on the membership you pick. However, once you find a grant that aligns with your eligibility and needs, you just have to comply with the instructions noted by the issuing organization to apply.
According to reports, Nav understands how tasking it can be to start a small business. Owing to that, and also to give small business owners the needed push, Nav provides a quarterly $10,000 small business grant. Although you don’t necessarily have to be a veteran to apply, veterans can register, apply and also obtain the awarded grants.
This is another very reliable resource for small business owners, including veterans. Note that the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) manages the database that contains over 1,000 grant programs from a wide range of federal agencies. Together, those agencies are known to award more than $500 billion in grant funding each year.
To apply via this platform, you need to register a Workspace account via Grants.gov. The workplace strives to make the grant application process easy and smooth. After a one-time registration, you can apply for numerous grant opportunities with the same profile.
Small Business Innovation Research Grants
Although not necessarily for veteran small businesses, the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program offers grant funding to small businesses in the tech industry. Note that the grants offered by this organization are divided into two types:
Phase I and Phase II. Phase I grants are primarily to businesses that require funding to test their business’s commercial viability. According to reports, these grants can reach $150,000 and are non-dilutive.
However, if you obtain a Phase I grant and successfully show concrete proof that your proposal is attainable; you will then qualify to obtain a Phase II grant. Have it in mind that Phase II grants will more or less depend on your Phase I work performance, and you can indeed receive up to $1 million over two years.
Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program for Disabled Vets
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs handles the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment (VR&E) Program for veterans with service-related disabilities. Note that the amount of funding you can get via this program will most often depend on the nature and severity of your disability.
However, funding obtained via this program can be used to acquire supplies, inventory, essential equipment, and licensing fees to start your new business. To qualify for this funding, you will be expected to submit a complete business plan.
Extra services offered by the VR&E program include counseling, career support, job training, resume development, and skills coaching. Note that even if you fail to qualify for funding through the Vocational Rehabilitation and Employment Program, you can still leverage many of the services extended to veterans and service members.