Small Business Administration (SBA) has resources to help you start and grow your small business if you are a veteran. They help you succeed by creating a business plan to find your very first customer. In 2007, the SBA launched the Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative. According to a press release from them, they guarantee more than a billion dollars per year in loans for veteran-owned businesses.
Patriot Express loans can be obtained from participating banks, credit unions, lenders and other financial institutions around the country. A disabled veteran must apply for the loan with a participating lender because even though the SBA guarantees a loan, it is not the lender itself. A disabled veteran can, however, contact the SBA directly to get help in locating the lender in his area. A direct contact with the lender who advertises the participation with the SBA is also an option. A SBA study revealed that veterans with 20+ years of service towards self-employment occur in greater numbers; reason possibly being that military training develops organizational skills and risk tolerance in them, said the executive director for Small and Veteran Business Programs at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
Disabled Veterans can apply for and receive loan amounts up to 500,000 dollars under the Patriot Express program. The interest rates on the loans are SBA-regulated and vary from 2.25 to 2.75 primarily, depending on the amount of loan one receives. For amounts lesser than 50,000 and 25,000 dollars, lenders are permitted to charge an additional 1 and 2 percent respectively. There are some prerequisites to receive the loan. The veteran has to document receiving an honorable discharge. The eligibility certificate is required from the office of Veteran Affairs. Also, it is essential that the veteran owns at least 51 percent of the business. The processing time for the loan can range from two to four weeks depending on the lender and the amount for which the loan is applied. After that, the loan is submitted to the SBA where the final review is done. The SBA is committed to a 36-hour turnaround time for the final review. This program is a streamlined process and hence no additional or special paperwork is required. The participating lender in this program uses his own paperwork.
Many online resources are available to help veterans launch businesses; some even help family members. Here are several places to start visiting for more information.
- Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) (http://www.score.org): SCORE has specialized programs for veterans to learn how to access information on financial and contracting opportunities.
- Syracuse University Veterans’ Resource Center (http://www.veterans.syr.edu): Syracuse hosts entrepreneurship programs for veterans. It also runs special programs for women veterans and family members of wounded veterans.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (http://www.vetbiz.gov): This website helps small businesses become certified as veteran-owned or service-disabled veteran-owned. The businesses may be eligible for procurement programs and can be found by contracting officers for the Veteran’s Administration, once certified.
SBA (http://www.sba.gov): The first website to visit. The reason why this is mentioned last is that you remember what you read at the end.