10 Sources of SMB Loans for Veteran Entrepreneurs and How to Apply


As small business owners, veterans play a very important role in driving the U.S. economy. Veteran-owned businesses employ more than six million workers, and generate approximately $1.2 trillion in annual receipts, according to the Small Business Administration (SBA).

What’s perhaps most interesting is that the number of veterans pursuing their entrepreneurial dreams is growing at a swift pace. To give an example, one in every 10 small businesses is veteran-owned today. Inspired by this phenomenal growth, Silicon Valley is taking a keen interest in these businesses.

If you are a veteran interested in setting up your own small business, here are some of the most popular sources of small business loans and information on how to apply.

Sources of Funding for Veteran Entrepreneurs

StreetShares

A peer-to-peer lending marketplace for small business loans, StreetShares was co-founded by Mark Rockefeller, an Air Force veteran who served in Iraq. The company has an auction-based funding model that connects entrepreneurs with investors. The StreetShares marketplace combines lowest bids into a single loan to reduce the borrower’s cost to the lowest-possible rate. The platform is open to non-veteran small business owners as well, although about 60 percent of the loans listed are for veteran-owned businesses.

How to Apply?

StreetShares has a four-step process to funding businesses. You can apply for a loan in 10 minutes online, or call the company to understand the application process. Once you complete this step, you will instantly find out if you qualify. The next step is to submit all documents for verification purposes and build a business pitch. The loan will be funded via auction on the StreetShares marketplace.

Veteran Entrepreneur Portal

The Veteran Entrepreneur Portal (VEP) is part of the Veterans Affairs Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. The VEP connects veteran entrepreneurs to BusinessUSA and offers listings of small business loans for veterans. It also offers growth lessons, resources geared toward the veteran small business community, franchising opportunities and more.

How to Apply?

To access financing options, you need to fill out some basic information such as your location, financing needs, and the industry you operate in. Once you provide all the information, you will receive a recommendation of state and federal financing programs based on your answers.

Veterans Business Services

Veterans Business Services (VBS) connects veterans to financing and provides resources as well as knowledge to move in the right direction. This private consulting service has tie-ups with national SBA 7a Lenders — loan providers with government guarantees from the U.S. Small Business Administration — and other respected financial intermediaries to provide a range of financing options to veterans across the United States. VBS also helps veteran entrepreneurs develop a financing strategy to blend eligible and practical capital resources.

How to Apply?

You can visit the VBS site and provide information about your business interest, business plan and NAICS code to get started.

Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program

The Military Reservist Economic Injury Disaster Loan program (MREIDL) is intended to provide for the necessary expenses that cannot be met when an essential employee has been summoned to active duty in their role as a military reservist. The purpose of these loans is not to cover lost income or lost profits. Moreover, the program offers loans at low interest rates of four percent.

How to Apply?

For loans over $50,000, you need to show collateral. Although a loan is not typically declined for the lack of collateral, the SBA requires the borrower to pledge collateral that is available. It’s also important to note that the filing period for small businesses to apply for the economic injury loan assistance program begins on the date the essential employee is ordered to active duty and ends one year after the employee is discharged.

You may apply directly to the SBA for assistance. The SBA will send an inspector to estimate the cost of your damage once you have completed and returned your loan application.

SBA Express Loan Program

SBA’s Express Loan Program provides financing of up to $350,000. One of the best things about this program is that you will receive a response to your request within just 36 hours! It is this quick turnaround time that has made the program vastly popular among veterans.

How to Apply?

To apply, you will have to provide a variety of information, including your personal background, tax returns, credit report, and bank statement among other information. For a complete description of the application process, check SBA’s SOP 50 10 5(G) (PDF).

SmartBiz

SmartBiz is a San Francisco-based marketplace for online small business loans.  SmartBiz’s website claims the company makes it easy for veterans to access funds by making the application process simpler and less time consuming — that includes application for an SBA-backed loan. It is ideal for veteran entrepreneurs interested in expanding their business with the least expensive financing.

How to Apply?

To qualify, you should have a credit score of 600 or higher and report a revenue between $50,000 and $5 million. You must also have been in business for at least two years with no bankruptcies or foreclosures in the past three years. The pre-qualification process takes just five minutes and requires you to provide basic information. Once the process is completed, it takes about seven days before the funds reach your account.

Minnesota Reservist and Veteran Business Loan Program

The Minnesota Reservist and Veteran Business Loan Program provides business loans to firms that are affected when their employees are called to active military duty. It also offers business loans to veterans who have returned from active military duty and want to set up their own business.

Both types of loans provide one-time, interest-free sums of $5,000 to $20,000. The loan terms are 54 months, with no repayment for the first 18 months and equal monthly payments over the remaining 36 months.

How to Apply?

To be eligible for the startup loans, your business should have 20 or fewer employees and have had less than $1 million in annual gross revenue in the preceding fiscal year.

Veterans who qualify under this program must have been:

• On active duty on or after September 11, 2001.
• Separated from service under honorable conditions after having been on active duty for at least 181 consecutive days or for the full period for which called to active duty (or after reason of disability incurred while on active duty).

Generally, it takes four to six weeks for the application process to be completed and funds to reach you.

Connect2Capital

Connect2Capital offers loans to veterans who own small businesses. A non-profit lender, Connect2Capital provides loans in the range of $50,000 to $4 million. A key feature of the loan by the organization is the lower down payments that start as low as 10 percent.

How to Apply?

To get started, you need to provide information about your business, your financing needs and credit score, along with other details.

Veteran Launch

Veteran Launch is an affiliate of OBDC Small Business Finance, a non-profit organization specializing in financing California veteran-owned businesses through financing, consulting and networking support. The organization offers access to micro and small business term loans with low fees and competitive interest rates. Loans in the range of $25,000 to $250,000 are available with no prepayment penalty.

How to Apply?

To apply, you can give Veteran Launch a call, or simply fill out an online form where you need to provide some basic information about your business.

Veterans Business Fund

Veterans Business Fund is aimed at helping veteran entrepreneurs expand their business with adequate financial support. Do note that at the moment, Veteran Business Fund is raising the required capital to assist businesses. Until the necessary fundraising is complete, no application will be accepted.

Once applications are accepted, Veteran Business Fund will issue non-interest bearing loans to veterans. The loans will be for a term of five years or longer.

How to Apply?

When Veteran Business Fund gets ready to accept applications, veterans will be required to first apply to a lending institution of their choice for a loan. The lender will specify the amount of equity required for the loan. After receiving the requirements from the lending institution, veterans will have to contact Veteran Business Fund. The application process is expected to capture essential information based on which a decision will be made within three weeks.

Army Uniform Photo via Shutterstock

2 Comments ▼

Shubhomita Bose


Shubhomita Bose Shubhomita Bose is a Staff Writer for Small Business Trends. She covers key studies and surveys about the small business market, along with general small business news. She draws on 8 years of experience in copywriting, marketing and communications, having worked extensively on creating content for small and medium sized enterprises.

2 Reactions

  1. Aira Bongco

    This gives more reasons why veterans should have their own small business. With all the options available to them, there is simply no reason for them to not go into a business in a field that they love.

  2. Martin Lindeskog

    Do you find resources for veterans outside the North American market?

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