Microloan

Small Business Loans for Veterans

You may be surprised to learn that out of the 27.9 million businesses in America, 2.5 million businesses are owned by veterans. Are you a veteran who is looking to get in on the entrepreneurial action? If yes, there are a number of steps you can follow and resources to look at, including more traditional types of financing and different VA SBA loan options

Financially Reviewed by Somer G. Anderson

At A Glance — The decision to embark on an veteran-owned business is a momentous one. Active-duty military, former military members, and current spouses of military personnel could be interested in a veteran business loan to begin or expand their entrepreneurial journey. On this page, we will outline the top loans and grants for military veterans. 

Loans For Military Veterans

If you're a former service member considering starting a new business venture, it's likely that you'll need some financial assistance. Your standing as a veteran gives you access to loans for military veterans from specialist sources.

StreetShares is our top recommendation for business loans for veterans because of its inexpensive rates, focus on serving veterans, and flexible forms of financing. It can also process applications and make funding available within just a few business days.

Top Small Business Loans for Veterans

The following table highlights the top loan options that veterans should consider.

 

Lender

Best for

Minimum Credit Score

Minimum Time In Business

Min. Annual Revenue

Loan Amount

Interest Rate

SBA 7(a) Loans

$0 upfront guarantee fee

Depends on lender

Two years

Sufficient to prove repayment ability

$125,000

5.50% - 9.75%

StreetShares Foundation

Flexible financing options

620

One year

$25,000 - see cons below

$2,000 - $250,000

8.00% - 39.99% 

MREIDL

Working capital

See comments

-

-

Up to $2 million

4%

Hivers and Strivers Angel Fund

Startups

-

-

-

$250,000 to $1 million

-

LendingClub Veteran Loan

Business loans

-

One year

$50,000

$5,000 to $500,000

Start from 4.99%

The Best Small Business Loans for Veterans - In-depth

Let’s now go into more detail about each provider.

1. SBA Veterans Advantage 7(a) Loan

The Veterans Advantage program (which eliminated or reduced fees on SBA 7(a) loans for veterans) was recently discontinued. Veterans, however, can still apply for SBA 7(a) loans for up to $5 million in business capital funding.

ProsCons
  • Lower fees and interest rates
  • SBA Express loan for up to $350,000 can be processed faster
  • Longer repayment terms
  • Low monthly repayments
  • Longer approval turnaround times
  • Higher upfront fees payable for more significant loan amounts 

Should your required loan amount be less than $125,000, you’ll benefit by not paying an upfront guarantee fee, and your interest rate will be lower.

With government backing resulting in much less costly financing, SBA loans for veterans are considered a solid option.

2. StreetShares Foundation

StreetShares Foundation provides loans for veteran-owned enterprises that have been in operation for over one year. 

ProsCons
  • Borrower eligibility is lower than banks
  • Rates charged are inexpensive
  • No penalties for prepayment
  • Application  process is quick and straightforward
  • Low borrowing amounts
  • Loans are limited to 20% of annual business revenue

Initially founded by veterans for veterans, loan amounts of up to $250,000 are available—with competitive interest rates. StreetShares foundation is our number one choice small business loan for veterans. 

3. Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program (MREIDL)

The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (MREIDL) aims to assist eligible small businesses so that they can meet regular operating expenses.

These loans provide the working capital necessary for an enterprise to meet its obligations. The loan remains in place until operations return to normal—typically up to a year after the employee has returned to civilian duty.

ProsCons
  • Repayment up to 30 years
  • 4% maximum interest rate
  • Loans up to $2 million
  • Approval process can take long
  • Eligibility requirements are stricter

To apply, you must have income tax returns for the past three years, current business financial statements, and personal assets and liabilities statements.  

4. Hivers and Strivers Angel Fund

Hivers and Strivers is an angel fund founded by graduates from U.S. military academies to assist fellow military academy graduates with their startups. It also provides support during the early stages of a business's operating life. 

Capital contributions range from $250,000 to $1 million, and they may form alliances with other groups for more significant investments. Should you be a graduate of one of the military academies and possess a small business idea, visit their website.

ProsCons
  • No loan repayments
  • No interest expenses
  • They serve as advisors and board members
  • No minimum trading period
  • Investors expect a return of at least 10x initial investment 
  • You’ll always have somebody looking over your shoulder

Providing that you can qualify, this is an excellent way forward for aspiring entrepreneurs.

5. LendingClub Veteran Loan

LendingClub stopped offering small business loans in April 2019 but still connects potential borrowers to a major lending partner.

Customers who fill out a business loan form on LendingClub's website are referred to Opportunity Fund, a larger nonprofit business lender. Opportunity Fund usually provides loans to less-served small businesses that don't qualify for conventional bank loans.

To qualify for loans up to $500,000, borrowers must have been trading for at least 12 months. They must also prove a minimum of $50,000 in annual revenue and own 20% or more of the business. Additionally, you may not have any tax liens or bankruptcies. 

The Top Small Business Grants for Veterans  

Now, let’s take a close look at the top small business grants for veterans. 

1. StreetShares Awards

This organization aims to offer support for the families of military persons who served the U.S.A. Several grant opportunities are available through StreeShare as well as other options to help you realize your entrepreneurial goals. 

2. USDA Grants

The United States Department of Agriculture began the 2401 Program as an initiative to assist veterans and socially disadvantaged farmers. If you work in the ranching or farming industry and qualify for a USDA grant, you may be able to receive money and other benefits to get your business started or to maintain your established business. 

3. Warrior Rising Grants

The Warrior Rising organization was created by military veterans eager to assist their fellow veteran entrepreneurs. Participants can benefit greatly from training, grants, and mentorships. 

4. Department of Veterans Affairs Small Business Grants

The grants offered by this organization are for veterans who have nonprofit organizations. If you are a veteran eager to have a positive impact on your town or community it is worth looking at the qualifications to see if a VA small business grant will assist you. 

5. National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE) Growth Grants Program

The focus of these business development grants is to give small business owners, from a variety of backgrounds, the opportunity to achieve their entrepreneurial aims. 

How to Qualify for a Veteran Business Loan

To qualify for small business loans for military veterans, you should meet one of the following criteria:

  • Veterans with honorable discharges
  • Reservists and National Guard members
  • Veterans disabled in-service
  • Active duty service members taking part in the military's Transition Assistance Program (TAP)
  • Present spouse of any active duty service member, veteran, or any reservist or National Guard member
  • Widowed spouse of a service member who died while in military service or of a military service-related disability

You must also demonstrate your creditworthiness and present a viable business plan reflecting the loan amount required, purpose, and proposed repayment program.

Should you be able to tick the boxes discussed, the SBA loans for veterans guarantee program is a great way forward.

Applying For A Small Business Loan For Veterans

Before approaching a lender, consider preparing the following documentation:

  • Personal credit score - Get it as high as you can.
  • Lender’s requirements - Understand a lender’s minimum qualifying criteria.
  • Financial and legal documentation - These should accompany your application:
        • Latest tax returns
        • Business financial statements 
        • Bank statements
        • Business licenses
        • Commercial leases
        • Resume of business experience
        • Articles of incorporation
        • Financial projections
        • Any other supporting documents
    • Business plan - Have one in place.
    • Collateral - Identify all potential collateral that you may need to give.

    To Sum Up

    There are many options that exist for veterans who seek to fund their small businesses. In this article, our experts have put together a comprehensive list of the top small business loans for veterans - and have come up with a top recommendation for you. 

    StreetShares stands out above its competition due to its focus on serving veterans, its inexpensive rates, and flexible forms of financing. What’s great is that this loan provider can also process your application and make funding available within just a few business days. It is also one of the more lenient lenders, which makes it a good choice for veterans with poor credit.