Many grant programs exist to help disabled entrepreneurs realize their dream of starting a business. However, the chances of receiving a grant are highest if the entrepreneur is currently unemployed, since the programs aim to help those most in need, according to Disability Means Business. Presenting a sound business plan is also a crucial part of applying for a grant.
Grants for Women
In addition to providing loans to entrepreneurs with disabilities, the Abilities Fund awards grants to women with disabilities through the Women and Company® Microenterprise Boost Program. In collaboration with the Citigroup Foundation, it awards $2,000 grants to women for expanding their businesses.
Grants for Veterans
The Center for Veterans Enterprise, of the Department of Veteran Affairs, provides grants to veterans with disabilities who choose to start or expand their own business. The Department of Veteran Affairs' website has information about funding opportunities for veteran entrepreneurs with disabilities.
More grants can be found on a state or local level. The federal government’s grant programs often provide funding for state-run agencies and other organizations that help people with disabilities. These organizations then allocate the money to smaller organizations. The government website, Business, provides a list of state-specific financial aid for entrepreneurs with disabilities. For instance, the Iowa Target Small Business Assistance Program provides up to $50,000 for people with disabilities, as well as women and minorities. Some grants aren’t limited to people with disabilities. For example, the NYC Seed program funds entrepreneurs in the technology field. However, the disabled often receive special consideration.
Entrepreneurs with disabilities may qualify for field-specific grants. For example, the U.S.D.A. provides funding for agricultural businesses through the Value-Added Producer Grants Program. The funds are for farm-based planning, marketing and renewable energy projects.
Additional Funding Sources
As Business Week recommends, also contact your state’s vocational rehabilitation agency to inquire about financial aid. The government’s PASS Plan lets people with disabilities use taxable income for starting a small business or for other purposes, as described on the website. While not technically a grant, PASS Plan provides funding for the same purpose. Additionally, the Small Business Administration (SBA) helps secure venture capital, an investment in a company in exchange for a share of future profits. The SBA also helps new business owners get loans.
Melanie J. Martin specializes in environmental issues and sustainable living. Her work has appeared in venues such as the Environmental News Network, "Ocean" magazine and "GREEN Retailer." Martin holds a Master of Arts in English.