The U.S. Small Business Administration provided a record number of loans and financial assistance to entrepreneurs and business owners in fiscal year 2015, with veteran-owned firms receiving particular attention.
Groups that historically have struggled getting conventional loans, such as veterans, minorities and women, received 32,563 loans totaling $13 billion. That was up considerably from the 25,799 loans totaling $10.47 billion that were distributed in the previous fiscal year.
Loans to veterans rose 101% in the total dollar amount and 45% in the number of loans. The total dollar amount of loans awarded to minority business owners rose 23% versus 18% for women.
The SBA’s most common loan program, known as 7(a), awarded 63,000 loans totaling $23.6 billion in FY2015, which represents year-over-year jumps of 22% and 23%, respectively. The SBA’s smaller 504 program, which covers loans for real estate and equipment, dipped in the number of loans from 5,885 in 2014 to 5,787 in 2015, although the total loan value nudged up from $4.2 billion to $4.3 billion.
Veterans made up 9% of all business owners in 2013, according to a report from the SBA Office of Advocacy. Compared with nonveteran business owners, they are more likely to operate companies in the goods-producing sector.
The majority of veteran business owners (82%) are age 50 to 88, while 12% are age 35 to 49 and 6% are younger than 35. Nonveteran owners skew younger, with 49% in the 50 to 88 age group, 35% age 35 to 49, and 16% in the youngest group.
To help former military servicemembers succeed in the business world, the SBA’s Office of Veterans Business Development operates the entrepreneurship training program Boots to Business: Reboot, which teaches veterans how to start a businesses.
In the coming year, the federal agency plans to offer more than 100 training workshops nationwide for veterans, active-duty servicemembers and their spouses. Participants will get tips on business ownership, including how to create a business plan.
“Military veterans represent a vast pool of talent and tested skills that makes them natural business leaders,” SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet said in a November 2015 statement.