The term “disability” refers to a wide variety of conditions, such as deafness, blindness, autism, limited mobility, and PTSD. These all have a strong detrimental impact on the lives of hundreds of thousands of individuals. However, having a disability, regardless of its type or gravity, should never limit one’s ability to earn a living and to become an entrepreneur. More and more creditors have started developing financing programs that are specifically aimed to help those who are disabled. There are credits meant to help you start a business, to develop an existing one, or to help your company go through difficult financial times.
This having been said, as with regular financing programs, it is important to know how to identify the right type of financing for your business needs. There are several organizations to choose from, each catering to specific types of individuals. Below, you will find the most important financial programs that are designed to help individuals start a business.
Grants offered for disabled individuals
One of the most popular ways to get the money to start a business is to apply for a grant offered by the federal government. The main advantage with these is the fact that, unlike a loan, the money does not have to be returned.
Grants can be obtained from the federal government, the National Arts and Disability Center, or from foundations or private companies. You can find grants by looking at the Small Business Administration Grants List, or at the Department of Health and Human Services website.
Keep in mind that grants are also difficult to obtain, mainly because they are limited in number. Getting them is a matter of creating a detailed business plan ensuring that you clearly explain how the company will start making money.
Loans for disabled entrepreneurs
There are several private companies and NGOs such as Accion that are offering small business loans to disabled individuals. These loans range between $300 and $100,000, ensuring that the financing program is versatile enough for any type of business idea.
Although flexible, these loans also come with a few downsides. They have to be guaranteed, and this means that you may have to offer personal assets and properties as collateral. Depending on how much money you need to borrow and on whether or not you have a stable source of income, getting a loan can be risky, especially if you are not sure that your business will succeed.
State loans for disabled individuals
Almost every state in the US has loan programs that are designed specifically for disabled entrepreneurs. These often have low interest rates and great terms and conditions to help with the very high costs of assistive equipment and technologies. Most of the loans are only meant for assistive equipment, such as screen readers, text-to-speech systems, and voice recognition software, however, there are a few that can also be used for other business purposes.
SBA Community Advantage Loans
Generally speaking, the SBA Community Advantage Loan is designed to help small businesses that have under 100 employees or startups that are partially funded but need money to start operations. The program is not specifically designed for individuals with disabilities, however, any entrepreneur that meets the requirements can get a loan.
It is also important to mention that the money can be used for a wide variety of purposes, from purchasing vehicles and inventory to using it as working capital or for marketing campaigns.
If you do not need to borrow a large amount of money, the SBA also offers loans for entrepreneurs with disabilities.
Assistive tech business loans
Companies and other lenders such as the National Disability Institute offer loans that are meant to help entrepreneurs pay for assistive technologies and equipment. Most lenders are local and offer loans at interest rates that are considerably lower than the ones from banks. The main thing to remember when looking at these is that your credit history will play a big part in whether or not you are considered to be eligible for a loan.
Short-term business loans for veterans
Lenders such as StreetShares are offering short-term loans that are designed specifically for veterans regardless if they have completed their tour of duty or if they are service-disabled. In order to be eligible for this type of loan, a business must have low revenue and financial history of at least one year. Furthermore, the entrepreneur needs to have a credit score of at least 600.
These are the main ways in which you can get the financing to start a company, regardless of your disability. Although many of the programs have the same risks as the ones designed for regular individuals, they have better rates and offer more wiggle room if you cannot repay them on time.