Small business loans and grants for veterans

You served your country. Now let your country give back to you with a VA business loan.

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Through drills and deployments, you’ve given your all to get where you are. Now it’s time to channel your skills and leadership into a new chapter: entrepreneurship.

Whether starting a business or expanding your existing one, you can find opportunities that support veterans and military personnel with the financial support and capital you deserve.

Read further to learn where to look for business funding and what to prepare to get the financing you need to succeed.

Our top pick: National Business Capital Business Loans

  • Min. Loan Amount: $10,000
  • Max. Loan Amount: $5,000,000
  • Requirements: Your company must have been in business for at least 6 months and have an annual revenue of at least $100,000.
  • Approvals within 24 hours
  • No industry restrictions

Our top pick: National Business Capital Business Loans

Get a large business loan to cover your financing needs, no matter what the purpose is.

  • Min. Loan Amount: $10,000
  • Max. Loan Amount: $5,000,000
  • Requirements: Your company must have been in business for at least 6 months and have an annual revenue of at least $100,000.

What types of business loans are available to veterans?

Veteran-owned businesses with a long track record of healthy finances can qualify for almost any type of business financing. But active duty stints often create gaps in your personal and business’s financial history, making it difficult for you to qualify for a loan.

Fortunately, many government agencies, nonprofit organizations, traditional institutions and online lenders offer financing customized for veteran businesses. These often come with discounted rates and fees, and can be less expensive than traditional business loans.

SBA Veteran Advantage loans

The Small Business Administration (SBA) backs loans especially for businesses with at least 51% ownership by veterans who have been honorably or medically discharged, or are active duty members of the Transition Assistance Program.

The most popular type of Veteran Advantage loan is the SBA Express loan. Businesses typically borrow less than $350,000. With this loan, you’ll get to take advantage of the already-low interest rates for these government-guaranteed loans with a reduced upfront guarantee fee.

SBA military economic injury loans

The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL), also backed by the SBA, offers low-interest financing to businesses that have suffered because an owner was called into active duty. Rates hover around 4% and are designed to help these businesses get back on their feet.

These loans can be difficult to get. To qualify, you must have been released from active duty less than a year ago to and prove that your business would not be able to recover without external financing — on top of the SBA’s already-tough eligibility requirements.

Peer-to-peer loans for veterans

Some peer-to-peer marketplaces like StreetShares are designed to connect veteran business owners to investors who fund business financing. You can get a wider range of types of business financing through these platforms, including business term loans, lines of credit and invoice factoring.

Veteran franchising financing

Several corporations like UPS and 7-Eleven offer special financing options for veterans who want to open a franchise. With 7-Eleven, for example, you can get a significantly reduced franchising fee and unique financing options that are only available to veterans.

Nonprofit loans for veterans

Your business can also apply for highly-discounted financing with nonprofits like the Veteran Business Fund. These loans typically can’t cover all of your business’s financing needs, but they can come with interest as low as 0%. Nonprofits sometimes also offer help in getting additional financing from the SBA and other veteran-friendly lenders.

Want more options? The VA Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization is one of the most prominent federal resources available.

Who’s eligible for a VA business loan?

VA loans are typically limited to former military personnel from any branch of the Armed Forces. However, some loans allow military spouses and other relatives of veterans to apply for special funding.

You could also qualify for more funding options if you identify with a group that’s classified as a minority, so carefully research the full range of your options.

Service-disabled veteran business financing

Part of the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program, the SDVOSBC sets aside at least 3% of government contracts for service-disabled veteran-owned businesses. While it’s not necessarily a type of financing, it levels the playing field by prioritizing these types of business owners who may be struggling.

To qualify you and your business will have to meet a long list of eligibility requirements, and it could take a while for the contract to go through. Like with other government-backed programs, be prepared for the long haul.

Want online financing? Compare top business lenders

Updated February 27th, 2020
Name Product Filter Values Min. Amount Max. Amount Requirements
LoanBuilder, A PayPal Service Business Loans
Annual business revenue of at least $42,000, at least 9 months in business, personal credit score of 550+.
Customizable loans with no origination fee for business owners in a hurry.
First Union Lending Unsecured Long-Term Business Loan
450+ credit score, 3+ months in business, $15,000+ monthly revenue, no open bankruptcies
Unsecured funding and more for all credit types.
National Business Capital Business Loans
Your company must have been in business for at least 6 months and have an annual revenue of at least $100,000.
Get a large business loan to cover your financing needs, no matter what the purpose is.
OnDeck Small Business Loans
600+ personal credit score, 1+ years in business, $100,000+ annual revenue
A leading online business lender offering flexible financing at competitive fixed rates.
BlueVine Business Loans
6+ months in business, $10,000 in monthly revenue, 600+ personal credit score.
Get approved for a business loan in as little as 5 minutes. Applications won't affect your credit score.
First Down Funding business loans
Varies by type of loan
Alternative financing up to $300K with highly competitive rates.
Kabbage Small Business Line of Credit
1+ years in business, $50,000+ annual revenue or $4,200+ monthly revenue over last 3 months
A simple, convenient online application could securely get the funds you need to grow your business.
Become Business Loan Marketplace
12+ months in business and $10,000+ monthly revenue
Compare loan offers from top lenders using this marketplace. It’s free & won’t affect your credit.
Sheer Funding Business Loans
6+ months in business, 550+ credit score, $150,000+ annual revenue, eligible industry
Multiple financing options available for business owners with less-than-perfect credit scores.
Efundex long-term business loans
2+ years in business, 620+ credit score, not a sole proprietorship or nonprofit, strong financial history
Financing for high-risk industries with transparent rates and terms.
Lendio Business Loan Marketplace
Must operate a business in the US or Canada, have a business bank account and have a personal credit score of 560+.
Submit one simple application to potentially get offers from a network of over 75 legit business lenders.

Compare up to 4 providers

What small business grants are available for veterans?

When loans aren’t enough, a grant could be a solid way to get financing for your business. Private, federal, state and local grants exist, but it’s a matter of finding one that fits you and your business needs.

Veteran-specific grants include the Little Caesars Veterans Program, UPS Franchise Discount, USDA Veteran and Minority Farmer Grant and StreetShares Commander’s Call Veteran Business Award.

The US Health and Human Services Health and organizations like the National Association for the Self-Employed offer resources and support to help veterans find grants that fit a specific industry.

How to apply for a VA business loan

You’ve done your research, compared your options and are now ready to apply. Before you start the application process, you can prepare by readying the basic documents you’ll need to increase your chances of approval, including a well-developed business plan.

You will need to show the lender that you’ve built a solid plan for success as well as demonstrate your financial need in getting there. You’ll also need to gather copies of your business revenue statements and possibly military records, depending on the loan. Some business lenders will check your personal credit, so it could be helpful to know your credit score before applying.

Another thing to keep in mind: Depending on the type of funding you’re applying for, you may need to prepare a presentation of your business plan to go along with your information.

Application checklist

Each lender will require slightly different information, but here’s a quick guide to the minimum documentation you’ll need when you apply:

  • Your business tax returns.
  • Financial statements for your business for the past two years.
  • A balance sheet for your business for the past two years.
  • Lease agreements.
  • Proof of business ownership.
  • Business asset transactions.
  • State filings.
  • Your personal financial information.
  • A detailed long-term business plan.
  • A prepared presentation that goes over your business plan and statement of need.

Frequently asked questions about VA business loans

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