Having a significant share of American small businesses owned by veterans is of special interest not just for the government but also for various service organizations and communities across the United States. In 2016, the Census Bureau estimated that veterans accounted for 7.5 percent of total small business ownership, and this is a figure that many sectors of society would like to see increase.
When veterans become small business owners, the overall rate of unemployment decreases while overall prosperity increases; this can be explained by the fact that veterans tend to possess certain skills and motivation to expand their entrepreneurial endeavors. To this effect, veterans can access a number of special programs related to education, financing and grants to help them get started on the right path to small business ownership. The following programs have been around for years and are very popular among veterans transitioning out of uniform and into civilian life:
This program is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, and it gives small business owners a substantial edge in terms of gaining contracts with the federal government. Although getting lucrative contracts with the Department of Defense is one of the advantages of VetBiz, there are many other opportunities for small companies certified as being owned by veterans.
Women Veteran Entrepreneurship Program
The U.S. Small Business Administration manages this program, which aims to empower female veterans with grants to start their own companies. This is a competitive program with a minimum grant amount of $25,000, and the SBA intends to issue six grants per year. Applications must be submitted before December.
Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small-Business Program
Veterans who have a service-connected disability can apply to this SBA program that assists qualified business owners obtain federal government contracts of up to $5 million. It is important for the veteran to hold at least 51 percent ownership of the business.
Institute for Veterans and Military Families
This program is administered by Syracuse University and it aims to provide education to veterans and their families as they transition to civilian life. A major focus of this program is to show veterans how they can access funding sources or how to bootstrap their enterprise efforts if necessary. A component of this program is taught by the SBA at military bases and posts in the continental U.S. as well as at installations abroad.
The StreetShares Foundation
StreetShares is an established online lender that recently entered into an agreement with JP Morgan Chase to provide funding for veterans interested in becoming entrepreneurs. The main goal of the StreetShares Foundation is to provide encouragement and education to veterans and military spouses about the world of small business. There is a competitive aspect as well; each month, the Foundation awards $10,000 in cash incentives to three participants. Some of the criteria evaluated includes ideas and the positive influence of the business in the community.