Editorial Note: We earn a commission on partner links on Forbes Advisor. Commissions do not affect the opinions or ratings of our editors.
Veterans represent approximately 7% of the adult population (18 million Americans) in the United States. At the same time, veterans own about 6% of American businesses and employ about 4 million people, according to the US Census Bureau.
If you are a veteran who owns or wants to start a small business, there are many 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 business.
There is usually a lot of competition for grants. But due to the more limited pool of applicants, you may have a better chance of qualifying for small business grants for veterans than some other types of business financing options.
Below are details on six small business grants for veterans, as well as other business financing options to consider. These resources could help you launch your startup or grow the existing business you’re ready to take to the next level.
Featured Partner Offers
$5,000 to $250,000
$6,000 to $250,000
$5,000 to $500,000
1. Winters and Strivers
Winters and Strivers is an angel investment group that invests in businesses owned and run by veterans. The organization offers early round investment funds through its Veterans Venture Capital Program. Funding opportunities range from $250,000 to $1 million.
How to register
You can apply for funding for your business idea through the platform Gust. The program focuses on veteran-led start-ups with significant growth potential. However, businesses that rely on government contracts are not eligible for funding.
2. 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 veteran business owners with disabilities access at least 3% of available federal contract dollars each year. In fact, some federal contract funds are only available to members of the SDVOSB program.
How to register
Your business will need to self-certify before it can qualify for the SDVOSB program. To complete this process, you can visit SAM.gov and update your Business Profile in the Socio-Economic Status section. For VA contracts, you will need to contact the Verification and Assessment Center for certification.
In addition to certifying your business, you will also need to meet other eligibility criteria to qualify for the SDVOSB program. For example, you must own a small business (by SBA size standards), have at least one disabled veteran managing day-to-day operations and long-term decisions, and the business must be majority-owned (at least 51%) by a disabled veteran of the service.
3. Street Shares Foundation Veteran Small Business Awards
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, offers three different grants under its Military Entrepreneur Challenge:
- First place: $15,000
- The second place: $6,000
- Third place: $4,000
In addition to cash prizes, the first place recipient receives $25,000 in pro bono legal services. Each finalist also receives a $1,000 scholarship to the Synergy Learning Institute. First, second and third place winners receive larger prize money ranging from $3,000 to $10,000.
How to register
Applications for the next round of grants are currently not open. But you can register with the foundation newsletter to receive notifications when the application process reopens.
4. Warrior Rising Small Business Grants
Whether you are a veteran starting a new business or looking for funding to expand an existing business, you may want to seek out Warrior Rising Small Business Grants. The nonprofit program, founded in Utah in 2015, offers both business grants and mentorship to eligible veteran entrepreneurs.
How to register
Companies can apply online become a “vetpreneur” in the Warrior Rising program. If the organization accepts your application, you will receive an onboarding email. From there, you can schedule a phone call that will explain 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.
Grants.gov can be a solid resource for many types of small business owners, including veterans. The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) maintains the database which contains more than 1,000 grant programs from various federal agencies. Collectively, these agencies award more than $500 billion in grants each year.
How to register
You can create a workspace account through Grants.gov. Workplace aims to simplify the grant application process. After a single registration, you can apply for multiple grant opportunities with the same profile. The system will even pre-fill your information so you don’t have to fill in the same details over and over with each grant application.
GrantWatch is an organization that helps veterans find grant opportunities for business and personal purposes (including home buying and home improvement). The extensive directory contains details of over 28,000 funding opportunities from a variety of sources in the United States, Canada and US territories.
How to register
GrantWatch requires an asset membership to access their directory. The cost of the service ranges from $18 per week to $199 per year depending on the membership you choose. Once you have found a grant that interests you, you will need to follow the issuing organization’s instructions for applying for the funding.
Tips for Applying for Veteran Business Grants
1. Make sure you’re eligible
Grant applications can be cumbersome and time-consuming. It is therefore important to avoid wasting your limited time claiming cash rewards that you are not eligible for.
Before completing grant applications for veterans, review all eligibility requirements. Even among grants for veterans, some may be limited to veterans with disabilities, those on honorable discharges, veterans opening new startups, and more.
2. Follow the instructions
As a grant applicant, you want your submission to be thorough and complete. It is essential to complete the complete application and submit any accompanying documentation requested. Also, pay attention to deadlines – both for the initial submission and beyond – to ensure you don’t miss out on valuable funding opportunities because of an oversight on your part.
3. Determine who will review the application
When applying for any type of grant, it is important to consider who will review 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 business, including how you could use the grant to propel your business forward.
Before submitting your grant application and all required documents, take the time to proofread it (perhaps several times). Grammatical errors or missing information could discourage some reviewers. You also want to do everything in your power to make your company stand out from other applicants.
Other Funding Resources for Veterans
Grants can be an attractive way to get financing for your business since you don’t have to pay the money back. However, there are other corporate funding options for veterans that you may also want to consider, especially since obtaining grants can be a time-consuming and highly competitive process.
Below are five business funding resources for veterans that might be right for you.
- Veterans Awareness Center (VBOC): The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) established the VBOC program to support seasoned entrepreneurs in several ways. Business training services, mentoring, active duty transition assistance and counseling are some of the valuable resources available through this program.
- Women veterans ignite the spirit of entrepreneurship (VWISE): Another resource available through the SBA is the VWISE program. Female veterans can apply for this program to receive business training from successful entrepreneurs and educators across the country.
- Boots to Business (B2B): The SBA also offers the B2B Business Education and Training Program under the Transition Assistance Program (TAP) through the Department of Defense. The program is available to service members leaving active duty, as well as their spouses.
- Preparation and employment of veterans: Military 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 an old job and more.
- Veterans Entrepreneurship Program (VEP): The VEP program is available through the Office of Small Business and Disadvantaged Business Utilization of the US Department of Veterans Affairs. The purpose of VEP is to help eligible veterans start a new business or increase the profits of existing businesses. It is open to eligible veterans with service-related disabilities and veterans who have distinguished themselves in their military career.
Best Business Credit Cards 2022
Find the best business card for you and identify factors important to your business