Small business grants for veterans

A Quick Guide to Small Business Grants for Veterans

Ezra Cabrera | March 13, 2019


    Many veterans transitioning back to civilian life consider entrepreneurship. Whether driven by necessity or a long-held dream, business ownership offers veterans a path to utilize their skills and contribute to the economy.

    In fact, according to a 2022 report by the National Veterans Small Business Coalition, veterans own an impressive 10.5% of all businesses in the United States. Recognizing this entrepreneurial spirit, numerous programs exist to support veterans with grants and loans specifically designed to help launch or expand their ventures.

    These resources can be instrumental in making your business dreams a reality. Don't be discouraged if you're starting small – countless veteran-owned businesses have flourished with the help of these programs.

    Top Small Business Grants for Veterans

    • Warrior Rising

      Warrior Rising, founded in 2015 by veterans themselves, is a non-profit organization in the U.S. Their mission is to empower veterans and their close family to become successful small business owners, or “Vetrepreneurs” as they call them. They do this by offering a free eight-week program packed with practical training to get your business off the ground.

      Warrior Rising is funded by donations, and an impressive 82.4% of that money goes straight to supporting veterans. While they don’t guarantee awarding grants, their program equips you with the skills, knowledge, and support network you need to launch and grow independently. However, approval for these grants is likely based on the strength of your business plan and the resources available.

      Spouses, widows and widowers, and immediate family members of veterans can apply for the program. You’ll need to fill out an online application, and a Warrior Rising team member will contact you to discuss the next steps. They might ask for a business plan, but even if you don’t have one, their program can help you create a strong foundation for your business.

    • The Second Service Foundation

      The Second Service Foundation, established in 2016, is a non-profit organization dedicated to empowering veterans, military spouses, and Gold Star families to become successful entrepreneurs. They provide a comprehensive toolkit of resources to help these individuals transition from military service to business ownership.

      The Second Service Foundation offers a unique funding opportunity through its signature Military Entrepreneur Challenge (MEC) program. This nationwide competition is designed specifically for veterans, military spouses, and Gold Star Family members with a business idea.

      To participate in the Military Entrepreneur Challenge, veterans must attend a speed coaching session the Foundation offers. The competition involves pitching your business idea to a panel of judges, typically through a short video presentation. Winners receive a combination of financial awards and in-kind business services. Financial awards can range from $1,000 to $15,000 for startup capital, while in-kind services might include legal or marketing assistance.

    • Stephen L. Tadlock Veteran Business Grant

      The Stephen L. Tadlock Veteran Business Grant, honoring a U.S. Navy veteran and small business advocate, is a micro-grant program supporting veteran entrepreneurs. Offered by Founders First CDC, a non-profit empowering diverse founders, this program awards $1,000 grants to eligible veteran-owned businesses.

      This grant is especially beneficial for early-stage veteran business owners, providing seed funding to fuel their growth. However, it's important to note that the selection process and eligibility criteria can vary each year. Founders First CDC usually conducts competitions with an application period, so details like deadlines and required information may change.

      Generally, to qualify, veteran small business owners must actively operate a U.S.-based business and hold a leadership role (CEO, President, or Owner). They may also need to have a minimum number of employees and maintain annual revenue below a specified threshold.

    • Texas Woman's University Veteran Woman Grant

      The Veteran Woman Entrepreneur Grant program, run by the Center for Women Entrepreneurs (CWE) at Texas Woman’s University, aims to support female veterans in Texas who own businesses or are interested in starting one.

      This program offers financial assistance to eligible Texas women veterans, providing $5,000 grants to selected applicants. These veteran business grants are tailored to help veterans kickstart or expand their businesses.

      Female veterans in Texas must submit their applications to the CWE to apply. The center then evaluates the submissions and selects recipients based on specific criteria. Once chosen, recipients receive the $5,000 grant to bolster their businesses.

      This initiative is part of the Jane Nelson Institute for Women’s Leadership's broader efforts to empower women and prepare them for successful roles in various fields, including entrepreneurship.

    • Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab

      The Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab (MVE-Lab) is a three-month program from Grand Valley State University's Richard M. and Helen DeVos Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation (CEI). It's tailor-made for veterans and military spouses aiming to start or grow a small business.

      In MVE-Lab, you'll get educational materials and hands-on guidance on starting a business. You'll cover key topics like finding your target market, networking, and getting the resources you need. Plus, you'll learn from seasoned mentors, including veteran entrepreneurs, lawyers, and marketing experts.

      Throughout the program, you'll work on your business plan and get your venture off the ground. MVE-Lab culminates in a Pitch Showcase, where you can compete for prize money (with a minimum of $20,000 awarded).

    • DAV Patriot Boot Camp

      The DAV Patriot Boot Camp is an empowering program designed to support founders in the veteran and military community, including spouses, by offering them comprehensive entrepreneurship education, mentorship, resources, and a supportive community.

      One highlight of the program is the DAV Patriot’s Pitch, an exciting online event exclusively for military veterans or spouses to showcase their innovative business ideas and seek potential investment. Like the popular T.V. show "Shark Tank," this event features a panel of veteran investors, industry experts, and successful entrepreneurs eager to support and invest in veteran-led businesses. Selected from each DAV Patriot Boot Camp cohort, veteran entrepreneurs compete for non-dilutive capital to help grow their ventures.

    • Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund

      The Farmer Veteran Fellowship Fund, administered by the Farmer Veteran Coalition, provides financial assistance to veterans in the initial stages of their farming or ranching careers—this grant program awards funds between $1,000 and $5,000.

      The program doesn’t distribute funds directly to veterans. Instead, it works with vendors to purchase essential equipment or supplies critical for their farm’s success. Since its inception in 2011, the program has awarded nearly $4 million to over 900 veterans.

      A separate initiative, Geared to Give, is also offered by the Farmer Veteran Coalition. They’ve donated 41 pieces of equipment and grants to Coalition members since its launch in 2015. The application window for the Fellowship Funds opens annually.

    Tips to Increase Your Chances of Approval

    Winning a small business grant can be a game-changer, providing crucial funding to launch or grow your venture. But with many applicants competing for limited resources, how do you increase your chances of securing that coveted grant award? Here are some key tips:

    Align with the Grantor's Mission

    Carefully research the grant program and ensure your business aligns perfectly with its goals and priorities. Tailor your application to demonstrate how your business directly contributes to their mission.

    Craft a Compelling Business Plan

    A strong business plan is the heart of your application. Clearly define your business concept, target market, competitive advantage, and financial projections. Demonstrate a deep understanding of your industry and a realistic roadmap for success.

    Showcase Your Team's Expertise

    Demonstrate that your team has the experience and qualifications to succeed. Highlight relevant skills, education, and past accomplishments that inspire confidence in your ability to execute your business plan.

    Follow Application Instructions Carefully

    Read the application guidelines thoroughly and answer all questions precisely. Don't submit incomplete applications or disregard specific formatting requirements.

    Proofread and Edit Ruthlessly

    Typos and grammatical errors can create a negative impression. Proofread your application meticulously and consider having someone else review it for clarity and conciseness.

    Network and Seek Guidance

    Connect with organizations that support small businesses and veterans. Seek mentorship from experienced grant writers or entrepreneurs who can offer valuable feedback on your application.

    Alternatives to Veteran Business Grants

    Securing a small business grant can be challenging, but several alternative options are available to assist your business's growth. Let's explore some of these alternatives:

    Resources for Veterans

    Numerous resources are available to equip veterans with the tools and funding to turn their business ideas into reality. Here's a comprehensive guide to explore:, a website managed by the U.S. government, acts as a central hub for federal grant opportunities. It's a handy tool for veterans and aspiring entrepreneurs looking for funding to start or expand their businesses.

    Users can easily search for grants on the website based on factors like funding topics, eligibility requirements, and application deadlines. Veterans can specifically find programs tailored for a veteran-owned business by using filters. Each grant listing provides detailed information about the program's goals, funding amounts, eligibility criteria, and how to get in touch. Some grants even allow users to download and submit application materials electronically through

    Before applying for any grant, it's crucial to carefully review the eligibility criteria and deadlines. While is an excellent resource for finding federal funding opportunities, it's always wise to contact the specific program agency for any questions or clarifications.


    GrantWatch is a subscription-based service that compiles grant opportunities from various sources, including governments, private foundations, and corporations. It's a handy tool for veterans and aspiring entrepreneurs like you who are seeking funding.

    You can easily search for grants on using keywords, location, funding source, and other criteria. This platform is handy for finding grants from private foundations that may not be readily available on government websites. Additionally, GrantWatch offers educational resources and a knowledge base to support you through the grant application process.

    GrantWatch's full database requires a paid subscription. Before committing, exploring free resources like to discover potential funding options is a good idea. Ultimately, deciding to use a paid service like GrantWatch depends on your specific needs and budget.

    Boots to Business Reboot

    Boots to Business is a free online program the SBA offers that specifically targets veterans and their spouses interested in launching a small business. The program equips participants with the essential knowledge and skills necessary for entrepreneurial success, covering business planning, marketing, and financial management.

    The Small Business Administration (SBA)

    The Small Business Administration (SBA) is a valuable resource for veterans who want to start their own businesses. The SBA offers personalized business counseling to veterans, which provides them with expert guidance on various aspects of starting and growing a business.

    Moreover, the SBA administers loan programs specifically designed to assist veteran entrepreneurs in accessing the capital they need to launch or expand their ventures. These loan programs often feature favorable terms and conditions, making them accessible and affordable for veterans.

    The SBA also conducts educational workshops and business training sessions to equip veterans with essential business skills and knowledge. These workshops cover business planning, marketing strategies, and financial management, which help veterans build the foundations for successful businesses.

    Veteran Institute for Procurement

    The Veteran Institute for Procurement (VIP) provides specialized training for businesses owned by veterans and service-disabled veterans nationwide. Its goal is to help them secure federal government contracts. VIP offers five distinct accelerator training programs tailored to support emerging startups and established enterprises.

    Veteran entrepreneurs participating in the VIP gain access to educational seminars, networking opportunities, and a supportive community. These training programs are available to qualifying businesses at no cost.

    The Bottom Line

    Small business grants for veterans offer valuable opportunities for aspiring entrepreneurs. These grants provide financial support to help veterans start or grow their businesses. Whether from government agencies, private foundations, or specialized organizations, various funding options are available. With determination and the right support, veterans can thrive as successful business owners and contribute to their communities' economic growth.

    About the Author

    Ezra Neiel Cabrera has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a major in Entrepreneurial Marketing. Over the last 3 years, she has been writing business-centric articles to help small business owners grow and expand. Ezra mainly writes for SMB Compass, but you can find some of her work in All Business, Small Biz Daily, LaunchHouse, Marketing2Business, and Clutch, among others. When she’s not writing, you’ll find her in bed eating cookies and binge-watching Netflix.