Veterans have served their country for a certain period of time, and once they are discharged or released, what can they do next? Some might take the time to relax and be with their family, but for others, there are ways to start a new life through a small business or entrepreneurship.
Veteran-owned businesses help to support veterans as they transition to civilian life, providing them with a sense of purpose and fulfilment. These businesses can span various industries and sectors, including retail, manufacturing, professional services, technology, and more, so there is something for everyone!
However, starting from scratch can be complicated if you do not have money to fund it. That is where grants come into play; numerous programs and organizations offer grants for veterans to start their businesses, but you will have to fulfil the requirements first.
8 Veteran-Owned Businesses Grants You Should Know About
Before we start, you should know that the U.S. Small Business Administration offers a tool to locate lenders for your business.
To use the Lender Match, describe your necessities and wait for interested lenders. Once you determine which option is the best and accept, you can get a grant or loan from them. You can click here to go to the website and use the tool.
However, if you want to apply for a specific grant, here are the most famous ones (we will leave the links at the end of the article).
1. Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP)
This program, established by the PenFed Foundation, aims to support veteran entrepreneurs through education, resources, webinars, and other material to support your business.
If you seek an investment, you need to apply for the Master’s Program. There are no costs for you to learn in this program, and once you finish your residence, investors will choose which veterans they think can bring a lot to the table regarding revenue growth and impressive scalability.
To be eligible, you need to have your veteran-owned and veteran-led companies up and running and, of course, be a veteran or mil spouse. This program is executed yearly, so be in touch when next year’s period starts.
2. Hivers and Strivers
It is an angel investment fund that supports explicitly veteran-owned businesses. They provide funding through early-stage investments ranging from $100,000 to $1 million. Hivers and Strivers were one of the first investors doing this back in 2009, and they have invested in 14 veteran-lead businesses so far.
If you are a veteran who has a millionaire idea, then you can pitch it to them and, fortunately, land a deal. However, keep in mind that as angel investors, they will give you funds in exchange for some equity in your business. It might be a sacrifice, but you need to feel assured that you are willing to take it.
In addition to financial investment, Hivers and Strivers also offers guidance and strategic advice to the companies they invest in. They work closely with the founders to help them navigate the challenges of entrepreneurship and accelerate their growth.
3. National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE)
The NASE offers small business grants to its self-employed members, including veterans. These grants can be used for various business purposes, such as marketing, equipment purchases, and professional development.
You can be part of the Growth Grants, which are worth up to $4,000. At this moment, you have the chance to apply until October. If you cannot submit your application, you must wait to enter in January, April, or July of the following year.
If interested, you need to be a member first (for monthly members and silver members that pay monthly, they can apply after 90 days of membership, other members can apply immediately). And in honor of the veteran’s service to the country, NASE offers a standing discount of more than 15% on our Annual Membership fee.
The membership fee is regularly $120 per year. Still, as a veteran, you will be able to enjoy this discount and some of the benefits included in the membership, like advice from experts, health, business, and travelling.
4. The Second Service Foundation Military Entrepreneur Challenge
The Second Service Foundation hosts a nationwide grant program for veterans, military spouses, and Gold Star family entrepreneurs to pitch their business ideas every year. It is basically a competition; the winner will receive funds and other prizes depending on the event’s location.
The eligibility criteria for this competition are significant, so read the instructions on their website before applying. If you are lucky to be selected as a semifinalist, prepare to pitch your idea to a panel of judges and then to a live audience.
As of today, there are two events where you can sign up, but there is not much time left:
- At the Business Beyond The Battlefield Conference in Arlington, Texas. You have until September 6, 2024, to submit your application.
- At the Military Influencer Conference in Las Vegas, Nevada. You have until October 6, 2024, to submit your application.
Although not precisely a grant to apply right away, it is a government website that provides information on various grant opportunities offered by federal agencies. There are more than 1,000 different grant programs you can apply for, each with other eligibility criteria.
You can search by applying keywords, categories, agencies, eligibility, and other factors that can ease the investigation of grants. These grants are not specific for veterans, but you can still find something to support your business.
Once you choose one, the details will be presented on the screen, including the general information about the grant, if you have the chance to apply for it, the requirements to fulfil, and other additional information.
6. Work Vessels for Veterans (WVFV)
It is a nonprofit organization that provides “vessels”; in other words, equipment and resources to injured veterans who want to start their own businesses. There are three ways that you can get equipment grants that can go from $1,000 to $8,000:
- Equipping Veteran-Owned Small Businesses. You are provided new or used equipment for veterans starting a non-farming business. These pieces of equipment can be adapted to accommodate injuries and facilitate work.
- Equipping Injured Veteran-Farmers. Specifically for farming businesses, the program provides agricultural and farming equipment. You can also get modifications that accommodate your injuries.
- Equipping Nonprofit Programs that serve veterans. Rather than starting a business, you can also create a nonprofit organization for veterans, in which WVFV will give you equipment grands for your program’s necessities.
So, if you want to apply, you will need to fill out an easy application and upload a series of documents, specifically copies of your DD214 and business plan and a statement of need detailing how the equipment grant will be used for your business.
7. Veteran Woman Entrepreneur Grant
If you are a female veteran in need of financial support, then apply for this program from the Texas Woman’s University. Any veteran woman-owned business can receive $5,000 as long as your business is a for-profit corporation, partnership, LLP, LLC, or sole proprietorship.
Remember that this grant is solely for businesses located in Texas, so if you are in another state, apply for another grant. There are a lot of stipulations of how the funds can be used for, requirements after being awarded, and others, so make sure to visit their website to check it out.
Right now, submissions of applications for the Veteran Woman Entrepreneur Grant are closed for the year. But don’t worry, stay tuned for 2024; luckily, you can be one of the 25 persons to win the grant.
Venmo Small Business Grant
This type of grant is available for everyone, even veterans! With a U.S. Venmo Account, you can apply for this grant if you make less than $50,000 and have a maximum of 10 employees.
If you are lucky, you can be one of 20 winners of a $10,000 grant and receive mentorship for your business. Unfortunately, this year’s applications are closed, but you will have your chance for 2024 if you fulfil the requirements.
With your Skills and Help from these Grants, you can Build your Business
It is always possible to start a business, so if you have an idea that might be successful, prepare a long-term plan and write down which resources you need. After determining what you need, evaluate these programs and organizations that offer grants and choose what suits you the best.
Every veteran’s dream is to have a peaceful life and a new start in society, and with these funds, they can open their business in less time than anticipated. Remember, some of these grant application processes are closed, so wait for next year to get a chance to fulfil your dream.
- Veteran Entrepreneur Investment Program (VEIP). (2023, August 14th). In Penfed Foundation. https://penfedfoundation.org/how-we-help/veip
- Hivers and Strivers. (2023, August 14th). In Hivers and Strivers. https://hiversandstrivers.com/about/
- Growth Grants. (2023, August 14th). In National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE). https://www.nase.org/become-a-member/member-benefits/business-resources/growth-grants
- Military Entrepreneur Challenge Application. (2023, August 14th). In Second Service Foundation. https://secondservicefoundation.org/mec/
- Search Grants. (2023, August 14th). In Grants.Gov. https://www.grants.gov/web/grants/search-grants.html?keywords=Veteran
- Equipping Veterans For Success. (2023, August 14th). In Work Vessels for Veterans (WVFV). https://www.workvesselsforveterans.org/
- Veteran Woman Grant. (2023, August 14th). In Texas Woman’s University. https://twu.edu/center-women-entrepreneurs/veteran-woman-grant/.
- Small Business Grant. (2023, August 14th). In Venmo. https://venmo.com/business/small-business-grant/