Small Business Loans for Veterans – A Definitive Guide to VA Business Loans

Small Business Loans for Veterans – A Definitive Guide to VA Business Loans
Eric Goldschein
on April 7, 2017
Read in 5 min

Small business loans for veterans are available through various channels and are also often supplemented with business development tools.

Business ownership is the kind of mission that veterans, known for their discipline, determination, and resourcefulness, are surely well-suited to tackle.

But veterans generally don’t leave their time in the service with the kind of capital needed to start and maintain a small business.

Like many of us, they need access to the loans and credit that make startups viable long-term.

Fortunately, there are a number of programs and resources that make the American Dream possible for soldiers after serving our country.

If you’re looking for a VA business loan, the options are varied depending on whether you’re looking to start a business, you already have a young business, you have bad credit, and many other qualifiers.

We put together a rundown of the best small business loans for veterans, to give those who want to operate their own company the economic opportunity to do so.

This guide will detail how to get a loan for your veteran owned business if that’s your goal. 

Later, we’ll also share our favorite business grants for veterans, including other special financing options.

Best Small Business Loans for Veterans

Every business is different:

Your business model, your financial history, and your capital needs make your business as unique as you are.

As such, the best business loans for veterans will vary depending on the situation, but you do have quite a few options.

Start your VA business loan search on the right foot with this definitive guide.

If you’re looking to start a new business:

 Your options will be limited, as most lenders look for someone with an established, income-generating business, to give them the best chance of seeing their loan repaid.

There are options, however, and most of them can be found via the Small Business Administration.

Learn more about Funding a Startup Through the SBA

You can also explore personal loans for business, startup loans, and the offerings of the Department of Veterans Affairs, which includes additional financing options—

Some of which don’t need to be repaid at all! (More on that below.)

If you need a loan despite bad credit:

Look for a lender that doesn’t ask for a minimum credit score. Lines of credit are good options here.

Lenders will, however, likely require that your business make at least $50,000 a year in revenue.

If your business is even stronger, making say, $100,000+ a year, your loan terms could be even better.

Learn more about How to Get a Good Loan with Bad Credit

If your business takes a hit because you’ve been called back into service:

The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan (MREIDL) provides veteran business owners with low-interest loans to help ease the financial burden.

It has some stipulations— the business needs to be at least one year old, with $50,000+ in annual revenue.

But if alternative forms of credit aren’t available, this program can come to the rescue.

If your business is established but you want to expand or otherwise invest:

With strong business credit history, your options will be more varied.

You can contact Veterans Business Services, one of a number of programs through the Small Business Administration, or alternative lenders, all of whom will likely be able to offer you a loan with agreeable terms.

These options are good if you’re interested in franchising, or making improvements to your existing business.

Loans aren’t the only way to acquire funding for your venture, however.

Special Financing Options for Veteran Owned Businesses

Veterans can also access a number of non-loan options, such as grants, discounts, and franchising programs specific to those who have served.

Here’s a rundown of alternatives:

Small Business Grants for Veterans

SARE’s Agricultural Grants

An array of competitive grants for farmers and ranchers in the United States, by region.

StreetShares Foundation

This veteran-owned business offers veterans various ways to increase their spending potential, from funding options to investment opportunities to savings bonds.

Fellow veterans are available walk users through the application process as needed.

They offer the Veteran Small Business Award (formerly the Commander’s Call), a $5,000 monthly award.

VetFran Business Grant Fund

This fund provides up to $10,000 in grants for veterans who have been awarded a franchise through the IFA VetFran program.

American Small Business Championship

You know your business is one-of-a-kind, so prove it.

Open only to existing business in the US, the American Small Business Championship offers over $75,000 in total prizes for companies that can answer “What makes your business unique?”

Help for Veterans Starting a Business

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal

This tool, courtesy of the VA and BusinessUSA, helps connect business owners to federal resources, such as financing, business development advice, and connections to public agencies.

The “VEP” is your portal for finding out more about VA-specific small business loans.

Learn more about the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal

American Corporate Partners

Another great place to start your VA business loan search is American Corporate Partners, or ACP.

ACP connects army vets with business mentors in an effort to increase access to networking opportunities and small business loans for veterans.

Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Program

This seven-week course features online and in-person training, and just received a funding boost from new SBA head Linda McMahon.

The SBA has a broad range of resources aimed specifically at female veterans and military spouses.

V-WISE

Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) seeks to empower women veterans and military spouses/partners to find their passion and learn the business skills needed to take a business from idea to execution.

Learn more about Small Business Loans for Women

Rollover for Business Startups (ROBS or also BORSA)

A program that allows business owners to withdraw money from their 401(k)— a move that would usually incur penalties— and invest that money in their business, with no debt or interest to pay back.

Syracuse University’s Institute for Veterans and Military Families

The IVMF hosts the Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans’ Families and a number of other veteran and family resources.

NAVOBA

The National Veteran-Owned Business Association advocates for veteran-owned businesses and also runs Vetrepreneur Magazine.

While they don’t offer small business loans for veterans, it’s one of the most valuable veteran business networks to be affiliated with.

Angel Investors for Veteran-owned Businesses

Hivers and Strivers

If you’re a recent graduate of a U.S. military academy, this angel investment group could front you anywhere from $250,000 to $1 million in a single round to help get your startup off the ground.

Veterans Business Fund

Though it’s not currently accepting applications, the VBF will soon offer non-interest bearing loans to veterans, via donations.

Union Bank Diversity Lending

Union Bank offers several financing options, including credit for veteran-, women-, and minority-owned businesses.

VetBiz

Part of the larger VA system, VetBiz is another portal for helping veteran small business owners find capital.

Small Business Loans for Veterans Seeking Franchising Opportunities

International Franchise Association – VetFran Initiative

The International Franchise Association’s VetFran Initiative, with over 650 franchise brands in participation, was specifically developed to help veterans transition back to civilian life.

UPS Franchise Discount

Via VetFran, UPS has helped thousands of veterans transition from the military into owning and operating their own franchise.

7-Eleven Veterans Franchising

7-Eleven offers a similar financing opportunity to veterans, with up to 20% off the initial franchising fee and 65% financing through the corporation.

Little Caesar’s Veterans Program

If pizza is your passion, Little Caesar’s will offer financial incentives to veterans to encourage them to open one of their franchises, including a reduced franchise fee and credits on equipment and services.

For entrepreneurial veterans, this knowledge is power.

It’s a commonly held belief that military veterans should be afforded opportunities for success when they return home.

In many ways, the U.S. government and society in general doesn’t uphold that ideal.

But here, the avenues that lead to success do exist.

Let’s make sure this information reaches as many of our service members as possible, so they can continue to further American ideals upon returning home.

See Loan Options


Are we missing any small business loans for veterans? Please let us know in the comments so we can keep helping veteran entrepreneurs fund their dreams!

Eric Goldschein Finance Journalist

Eric Goldschein is a freelance journalist who covers entrepreneurship, small business trends, emerging technologies, culture and sports.

He was previously the managing editor of SportsGrid.com, and has written for Business Insider, Trep Life, the Huffington Post, Fundera and more.

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