A lot goes into starting a business — but one of the most important pieces of the puzzle is securing capital. Having the right financing is crucial in laying the foundation for a new company and enabling it to strategically grow and flourish.

If you're a veteran looking to start a business after reentering civilian life, you have many options to secure the capital you need to kick off your entrepreneurial journey. For instance, you may look toward family, friends, or business partners to pool together the cash you need to get started. Another option is looking into a loan from both public and private lenders. There are other options, too, such as finding investors or crowdfunding.

These aren’t the only ways to tap into the capital your small business needs, however. Grants — which are financial awards that do not need to be repaid — can be an excellent way to kick off your business plan or supplement the funding you need to start your company. Grants are often tailored to certain types of businesses and entrepreneurs, and veterans specifically have several options. These small business grants are designed specifically for veteran entrepreneurs and can provide a big financial boost to get your venture up and running.

Small Business Grants

Veteran small business grants provide financial resources that help support military veterans looking to start or expand a business. These grants provide financial assistance and often additional benefits to eligible veterans, helping them overcome common financial challenges that come with starting or growing a company.

There are many grants available for veterans. Some of these are national, and others are for residents of specific states, or specific demographic groups, such as women veterans.

Second Service Foundation’s Military Entrepreneur Challenge

The Military Entrepreneur Challenge offers grants to entrepreneur veterans, military spouses, and Gold Star Families. The Challenge brings contestants together to network and compete for the capital they need for their small business goals.

Warrior Rising Grant

Warrior Rising helps “vetrepreneurs” identify challenges and needs within their business at any stage — be it conception or growth. Warrior Rising mostly provides services, rather than grants, but has provided grants and investments in businesses at their discretion.

Michigan Veteran Entrepreneur-Lab (MVE-Lab)

Grand Valley State University’s MVE-Lab is a free, three-month entrepreneurship accelerator designed for veterans and their spouses. The program ends with a pitch competition, and winners are awarded small business grants.

Veteran Woman Entrepreneur Grant

Texas Woman’s University operates a grant that provides $5,000 to 25 qualifying Texas women veterans. This is one component of the university’s broader women veterans entrepreneur training programs.

USDA Veteran and Minority Farmer Grant Program

This government program has distributed more than $9 million in outreach funds in a year for military veterans and minority farmers who are beginning their farming and ranching trades. This program is part of the Farm Bill.

Bear in mind that, unlike loans, grants do not have to be repaid. That makes them very competitive, so you may want to consider grants as only one potential funding source among many, including loans. Additionally, conditions and requirements for grants may change, so it’s important to confirm details and eligibility before you begin gathering your application materials.

Alternatives to Grants

Grants commonly don’t cover all the expenses you’ll need to pay to start or grow a business. That’s why considering alternatives to grants can also be helpful in procuring the funding you need.

Small Business Administration (SBA) Loans

The SBA has a range of programs and services specifically designed for veterans. Some, like the Veteran Small Business Certification program, helps businesses apply for contracts set aside for veteran-owned businesses. Others help veterans partner with lenders for loans with advantageous terms. Every vetrepreneur should familiarize themselves with what the SBA has to offer.

Angel Investors

Angel investors provide financial support, expertise, and connections to startups in exchange for ownership equity or a loan. There are several firms out there that provide these services specifically for veteran-owned businesses. You can find many of these firms through angel investor networking platforms.

Business Incubators and Accelerators

Although there aren’t a large number of small business grants for veterans, there are a large number of business incubators and accelerator programs across the country. The VETRN Streetwise MBA provides a scholarship-based entrepreneurship program for veterans. This includes mentorship, education, and networking opportunities. Veteran Women Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (V-WISE) helps women veterans and their spouses or partners learn how to pursue their entrepreneurial goals.

Friends and Family Funding

Your friends and family may play a role in getting your business off the ground, depending on a number of factors both personal and financial. If you obtain a grant and need a bit of additional support, or you have family members and friends who are comfortable investing, this might be an option worth remembering.


Crowdfunding may be an option depending on how wide your network is, your ability to stand out on crowdfunding platforms, and other factors. The crowdfunding model is far different from grants or loans, so be sure to consider what you have to provide to those who contribute to your campaign.

Tips for Applying to Small Business Grants for Veterans

Grants are competitive, and there are usually more applicants than dollars to go around. That being said, there are smart tactics and strategies that can help you position yourself for success.

Research Opportunities to Make Sure You Qualify

Do your homework and look into grant programs specifically designed for veteran entrepreneurs. Make sure you meet the requirements and that the grants align with your business goals. That way you can avoid spending time on the wrong programs or applying for grants that aren’t designed in line with your needs.

Get Your Ducks in a Row in Advance

Be organized and gather all the necessary documents ahead of time. Have your business plans, financial statements, military service records, and proof of veteran status ready. Being prepared will make the application process smoother and show that you're ready to start a successful business.

Broaden Your Search Beyond the Internet

Don't limit yourself to online resources. Check out local government offices, veteran organizations, and entrepreneurial networks in your community. They might have grant opportunities tailored specifically for veterans like you.

Speak to Past Grant Winners

Reach out to veterans who have successfully received grants in the past. They can offer valuable advice, share their experiences, and provide guidance on navigating the application process. Building relationships within the veteran business community can be a game-changer.

When searching for loans and financial opportunities, it can be important for veterans to stay vigilant and be cautious of scams, ensuring they thoroughly research and verify sources to protect themselves from potential fraudulent schemes.

While you search for funding, there’s one additional thing to consider: your network. As you grow your business, it can help to meet other veteran entrepreneurs and those in your industry. It’s also crucial to build a relationship with a bank that actively supports veteran businesses. These banks can offer specialized guidance in navigating small business funding, and provide valuable resources tailored to veterans' needs.

For more information, visit PNC's Starting Your Own Small Business page.

Get Help Solving Your Business Challenges at pnc.com/veterans