6 Small Business Grants And Resources For Veterans – Forbes Advisor

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Veterans make up around 7% of the adult population (18 million Americans) in the U.S. At the same time, veterans own around 6% of U.S. businesses and employ around 4 million people, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

If you’re a veteran who owns or wants to start a small business, there are numerous resources available to help you. In particular, small business grants designed for veterans could be a great financial tool to promote the growth and development of your company.

There tends to be a lot of competition where grants are concerned. But due to the more limited pool of applicants, you might have a better chance of qualifying for small business grants for veterans than for some other types of business funding options.

Below you’ll find details about six small business grants for veterans, along with other business funding options to consider. These resources could help you get your startup off the ground or grow the existing business you’re ready to take to the next level.

1. Hivers and Strivers

Hivers and Strivers is an angel investment group that invests in veteran-owned and -led businesses. The organization offers early-round investment funds through its Venture Capital for Veterans program. Funding opportunities range from $250,000 to $1 million.

How to Apply

You can apply for funding for your business idea through the platform Gust. The program focuses on veteran-led, early-stage companies with significant growth potential. However, businesses that are reliant on government contracts are not eligible for funding.

2. Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program

Veterans who were disabled while serving in the military may be eligible for the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) Program. The program aims to help disabled veteran business owners gain access to at least 3% of available federal contract dollars every year. In fact, certain federal contract funds are only available to members of the SDVOSB program.

How to Apply

Your business will need to self-certify before it can qualify for the SDVOSB program. To complete this process, you can visit and update your business profile under the socio-economic status section. For VA contracts, you will need to contact the Center for Verification and Evaluation for certification.

In addition to certifying your business, you’ll also need to meet other eligibility requirements to qualify for the SDVOSB program. For example, you must own a small business (per the SBA’s size standards), have at least one service-disabled veteran managing daily operations and long-term decisions, and the business must be majority-owned (at least 51%) by a service-disabled veteran.

3. Street Shares Foundation Veteran Small Business Award

Veteran business owners may be interested in applying for a grant through the nonprofit Street Shares Foundation. The organization’s grant program, the Veteran Small Business Award, provides three different grants through its Military Entrepreneur Challenge:

  • First place: $15,000
  • Second place: $6,000
  • Third place: $4,000

On top of the cash awards, the first-place recipient gets to take advantage of $25,000 worth of pro-bono legal service. Each finalist also receives a $1,000 scholarship to the Synergy Learning Institute. First, second and third place winners receive bigger scholarships ranging from $3,000 to $10,000.

How to Apply

Applications for the next round of grants are currently not open. But you can sign up for the foundation’s newsletter to receive notifications when the application process reopens.

4. Warrior Rising Small Business Grants

Whether you’re a veteran who’s starting a new business or looking for funding to grow an existing company, you may want to research Warrior Rising Small Business Grants. The nonprofit program, founded in Utah in 2015, provides both business grants and mentorship to eligible veteran entrepreneurs.

How to Apply

Businesses can apply online to become a “vetpreneur” in the Warrior Rising program. If the organization accepts your application, you’ll receive an onboarding email. From there you can schedule a phone call that will walk you through what to expect during the four-step business development program, including business training through Warrior Academy, one-on-one mentoring, funding opportunities and a place in the Warrior Community.

5. can be a solid resource for many different types of small business owners, including veterans. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) governs the database that features more than 1,000 grant programs from a variety of federal agencies. Collectively, those agencies award more than $500 billion in grant funding each year.

How to Apply

You can register for a Workspace account via Workplace aims to simplify the grant application process. After a one-time registration, you can apply for multiple grant opportunities with the same profile. The system will even prepopulate your information so you don’t have to fill out the same details repeatedly with each grant application.

6. GrantWatch

GrantWatch is an organization that helps veterans find grant opportunities for business and personal purposes (including homebuying and home improvement). The extensive directory houses details about more than 28,000 funding opportunities from a variety of sources throughout the U.S., Canada and the U.S. Territories.

How to Apply

GrantWatch requires an active membership to access its directory. The cost for the service varies from $18 per week to $199 per year depending on the membership you choose. Once you find a grant that interests you, you’ll have to follow the issuing organization’s instructions to apply for the funding.

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Tips for Applying for Veteran Business Grants

1. Make Sure You’re Eligible

Grant applications can be tedious and time-consuming. So, it’s important to avoid wasting your limited time applying for cash awards that you’re not eligible to receive.

Before you fill out any grant applications for veterans, review all of the eligibility requirements. Even among grants for veterans, some may be limited to disabled vets, those with honorable discharges, veterans opening new startups and more.

2. Follow Instructions

As a grant applicant, you want your submission to be thorough and complete. It’s critical to fill out the full application and submit any accompanying documentation that is requested. Pay attention to deadlines as well—both for the initial submission and beyond—to make sure you don’t miss out on valuable funding opportunities due to an oversight on your end.

3. Consider Who Will Review the Application

When you’re applying for any type of grant, it’s important to consider who will be reviewing your application and what they want to see. A reviewer will not have any existing information about your business or business idea. So, be sure to provide clear details about your company, including how you could use the grant award to propel your business forward.

4. Proofread

Before you submit your grant application and any required documents, take time to proofread it (perhaps multiple times). Grammatical mistakes or missing information could be a turn-off to some reviewers. You also want to do everything in your power to make your business stand out from other applicants.

Other Funding Resources for Veterans

Grants can be an attractive way to obtain funding for your business since you don’t have to pay the money back. However, there are other business funding options for veterans that you may want to consider as well, especially since securing grant awards can be a lengthy and highly competitive process.

Below are five business funding resources for veterans that might be a good fit for you.

  • Veteran Business Outreach Center (VBOC): The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) established the VBOC program to support veteran entrepreneurs in several ways. Business training services, mentorship, assistance transitioning from active duty service and counseling are some of the valuable resources available through this program.
  • Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (VWISE): Another resource that’s available through the SBA is the VWISE program. Female veterans can apply for this program to receive business training from successful entrepreneurs and educators throughout the country.
  • Boots to Business (B2B): The SBA also offers the B2B business education and training program as part of the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) through the Department of Defense. The program is available to service members who are transitioning from active duty, along with their spouses.
  • Veteran Readiness and Employment: Service members and veterans who have service-related disabilities can participate in the Veteran Readiness and Employment program. The service provides resources that can help participants start a business, find a new job, return to a former job and more.
  • Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP): The VEP program is available through the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization. The goal of VEP is to help eligible veterans start a new business venture or to increase profits in existing businesses. It’s open to eligible veterans with service-related disabilities and veterans who distinguished themselves during their military careers.

Alternatives to Small Business Grants for Veterans

If you’re having trouble finding a grant, there are other funding options for your business, including:

  • Family loans. Nineteen percent of new businesses rely on funding from family and friends, according to a 2020 study from Clutch. If you go this route, write up a formal loan contract so your friends or family know how and when they’ll be repaid.
  • Small business loans. More than half (55%) of all business owners rely on business loans at some point in their business journey, according to a 2019 Federal Reserve study. However, these loans come with more qualification requirements.
  • Peer-to-peer (P2P) business loans. P2P loans aren’t as common as lenders have shifted to more fintech-forward lending models. However, with at least one P2P business loan lender remaining, you may find it easier to get approved if you aren’t able to qualify elsewhere.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What types of expenses can I use a small business grant for?

You can use a small business grant for anything that’s not expressly forbidden in the terms of your grant. Most small business grants are given out for a specific purpose, such as to research a new technology or to expand in underserved areas.

Depending on the grant, you may need to provide regular reports about how you’re spending the money, so make sure you fully understand the terms of your individual contract.

How do you qualify for small business grants?

Qualifying for a small business grant will depend on the grant itself. Each organization offering a small business grant generally outlines the important details, including qualification requirements, permitted uses and any terms or conditions you’ll need to agree to. Most grant organizations also require you to submit a formal grant application to apply.

Can I apply for more than one small business grant?

You can generally apply for more than one small business grant. Unless a specific organization doesn’t allow for it, you’re free to seek as much other funding as you need.

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