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Small Business Grants for Veterans

By Elise Moores Managing Editor at Fast Capital 360 Reviewed By Mike Lucas Updated on May 04, 2021

Multiple organizations, including the U.S. government, award small business grants for veterans to start a business as they transition back to civilian life.

Unlike business loans offered for veterans, entrepreneurs don’t have to pay back grants. This makes them an attractive option to finance your business — if you qualify. Many grant programs have strict guidelines for who is eligible and how you can use the funding. But if you obtain one, it can change the future of your small business.

Top Small Business Grants for Veterans

Grant ProgramDescription
Warrior RisingMentorship, training and grants for veterans to start a business
StreetSharesPublicly-voted contest providing veteran business grants
FedEx Small Business GrantContest awarding small business grants up to $25,000
Government GrantsDatabase of grants for all demographics, including veteran business owners

Best Grants for Veterans Looking to Start a Business

If you’re a veteran transitioning back into civilian life and want to start a business, you know how much it takes to cover the startup costs. Many turn to loans, but there are a few veteran-owned business grants that can get your startup the funding it needs without taking on debt.

Warrior Rising

The vision of the nonprofit group Warrior Rising is to help veterans establish a small business through education, mentorship and financing. They provide grants for veterans who want to start a business.

Warrior Rising’s business creation process has several phases, taking you from an entrepreneur with a great idea to an educated small business owner with a fully funded startup.

What to Expect

1. Submit: Fill out an application and validate your info through a meeting over the phone.

2. Selection: Take part in a more in-depth interview to assess your candidacy for the program.

3. Track designation: You’ll either join the Warrior Academy—a self-paced instruction course to help you learn about entrepreneurship—or you’ll work with a mentor to refine your business plan to create a solid, executable launchpad for your business.

4. Funding: The Warrior Rising organization sometimes provides veteran business grants or loans to help veterans start their businesses, or they’ll guide veterans through the process to try obtaining funding from other sources. Any veteran business fund can be used to cover the initial costs of your business’s equipment, licensing, marketing and other common startup expenses.

Apart from the initial grant to start your business, Warrior Rising offers continued help in accessing additional funding. The organization uses its exposure and network of veteran-focused philanthropists to raise money via crowdfunding. Donations can also be made as small business loans or investments, giving you opportunities to receive funding in exchange for either monthly repayments or stock in your company.

StreetShares Foundation

Founded by 2 veterans, small business lender StreetShares provides small business grants to veterans who are entrepreneurs.

To qualify for the StreetShares Foundation Veteran Small Business Award, you must be a veteran or reserve/transitioning active member of the U.S. military. (Military spouses and children or other immediate family members of a service member who died while on active duty are also eligible.) Then you’ll submit an application and video pitch about your business.

The video you produce must be 2 minutes long, at the most, and include the following:

  • Your business’s impact on the military community
  • Personal story
  • Business idea and potential for success
  • What customer need/ market you’re looking to fill
  • Team and business history (if applicable)
  • How you’ll use the funding and how it can impact the community

The program is set up like a contest. If accepted, you’ll need to receive enough public votes to be in the group of 8-15 finalists. If you’re selected as a finalist, you’ll compete at their Military Influencers’ Conference to win 1 of 3 veteran-owned small business grants awarded by StreetShares.

The grant prizes are as follows:

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

General Business Grants for Veterans

If you’re already an established business, there are some other options. While these small business grants aren’t specifically for veterans, they are great programs and, sometimes, can favor veteran-owned businesses.

FedEx Small Business Grant Contest

If you’ve been in business for at least 6 months, you can enter the FedEx Small Business Grant Contest.

The public votes for eligible for-profit businesses. In 2020, 12 winners were selected, each winning grant money as well as at least $1,000 in FedEx Office print and business services. The grand prize winner received a $50,000 grant, the second place “silver” winner received a $30,000 grant and 10 “bronze” winners were awarded $15,000 each.

Although the contest is open to anyone, voters might gravitate toward giving the small business grants to veterans as a way to thank them for their service.

The federal government offers several small business grants for veterans, including disabled veteran business grants.

Do you need a loan for your small business?

Government Grants for Veterans

Through the grant database, you can find a complete list of all government awards that could get your business the funding it needs. This includes disabled veteran business grants and other specific types of financing for veterans.

Each grant will have its own set of guidelines and restrictions, so you’ll have to do your research to find the perfect match. In general, government grants require a clear and well-written proposal. You’ll want to make sure you have the time and resources to put forth your best application when seeking federal funding.

Small business tip:

Before you can apply for grants through the federal government, you must register with the System for Award Management (SAM) website and apply for a DUNS number. After that, you can create your account on the site and begin your search for small business grants for veterans.

Growing Your Veteran-Owned Business

Regardless of which small business grant for veterans you choose, you’ll be taking a huge step toward starting up or growing your company. Grants keep your future revenues in your pocket. However, they are restrictive and very competitive.

If you have trouble obtaining grants, you can still find affordable funding for your business. Fast Capital 360 offers multiple avenues of funding for veteran small business owners.

At Fast Capital 360, we thank you for your service.

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