Funding sources for veteran-owned businesses.
Growing a business takes grit, discipline and strong leadership — qualities many military veterans possess. It can also take a substantial amount of money, which is something often in shorter supply among those transitioning to civilian life.
Fortunately, a variety of loan and grant programs are aimed at helping former service members and their spouses obtain the funding needed to finance their business expansion dreams. The availability of these programs is one reason veterans now own more than 6% of all U.S. businesses.1 They include:
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides a variety of SBA-guaranteed loans and leadership resources that veteran-owned businesses can tap. The most common is SBA’s 7(a) Loan Program, through which eligible borrowers can obtain as much as $5 million from an SBA-preferred lender.2 ,3
Guaranty fees are waived for veterans who borrow $500,000 or less through the SBA 7(a) loan program. Eligible borrowers can utilize loan funds for most business purposes, including real estate and equipment purchases, working capital and debt refinancing. SBA 7(a) loans can be structured as term loans or lines of credit.
Commerce Bank, an SBA-preferred lender and can help veterans determine which type of loan is best suited for their needs.
Free training programs.
In addition to applying for loans, veteran-owned businesses – including those owned by women and service-disabled veterans — can take advantage of free training programs the SBA offers to help them succeed.
Courses in entrepreneurship and the federal procurement processes are among those available online and in-person through the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development. This office can also connect veteran small business owners to commercial supply chains. In addition to serving veterans, these resources are available to reservists, active-duty service members, transitioning service members and their dependents or survivors.
Veterans may also qualify for veteran-specific funding, including grants that do not require repayment.
Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan — Administered directly by the SBA, this program is designed for reserve-status service members who own a business and are called up to active duty. These loans help cover operating expenses during and after their deployment, should their business face economic hardship in their absence.
Loans of up to $2 million are available, which can be repaid over as many as 30 years at an interest rate currently set at 4%. Because these loans are designed to provide the working capital needed to pay business expenses, the funds cannot be used to refinance debt, expand a business or cover lost income or lost profit. More information on this program is available at https://www.sba.gov/funding-programs/disaster-assistance/military-reservist-loan.
While the “free money” promised in a grant is every business owner’s dream, be aware that obtaining these funds can involve a lengthy and highly competitive process. Some examples:
Second Service Foundation Military Entrepreneur Challenge — This nonprofit foundation provides cash grants each year to military veteran and military spouse entrepreneurs who start or grow businesses that create a social impact on their community. First- and second-place winners also receive pro-bono legal services.
Warrior Rising Small Business Grants — This nonprofit program provides grants, business training and one-on-one mentoring to eligible veteran entrepreneurs.
The Global Good Fund Veterans Leadership Program – The Global Good Fund, in partnership with the Smithfield Foundation, supports business owners who are veterans with funding and leadership resources. In addition, the U.S. Office of Management and Budget maintains a database of more than 1,000 grant programs offered by federal agencies that, together, award more than $500 billion in grant funding each year. Veterans are one of many groups eligible to apply.
Another good option.
Not every veteran is driven to become an entrepreneur. Recognizing the leadership, teamwork and problem-solving skills veterans offer, Commerce Bank is honored when former service members join our team. We have even launched an Employee Resource Group called SALUTE to support them and their professional development.
Please share this information with any veterans you may know.
- Michelle Black, Jordan Tarver, March, 28, 2022, 6 Small Business Grants For Veterans (And Other Funding Resources), Forbes Advisor
- Randa Kriss, Oct. 20, 2022, Best Small-Business Loans for Veterans of 2022