Government Grants for Disabled Persons Starting a Business

Written by anastasia zoldak
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Government Grants for Disabled Persons Starting a Business
The Small Business Association offers a number of business courses. (Image by, courtesy of Kevin Dooley)

According to a 2008 U.S. Census Bureau American Community Survey, 12.1 per cent of the U.S. population has some type of disability. To encourage and assist people with disabilities to start businesses, federal, state and local government branches offer grant programs. Individuals with disability status must provide their approval documentation when requested, while those without status as a disabled individual must apply to the disability determination services agency in their state before applying for a grant.

Business Plan

The application process for a government grant or loan program includes the submission of a business plan. The federal government's 42 agencies will not consider any financial request for a new business without a business plan. To help potential business owners, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers free classes, mentorship programs and support to create fiscally viable business plans.

Small Business Administration

The SBA has Small Business Development Center networks in each state, offering free counselling and advice to new business start-ups. They assist small businesses in finding financing and facilitate businesses for the disabled. For people with special needs, most state centres offer evening appointments, on-site visits or special accommodation for training classes, if requested ahead of time.


According to, the federal government awards grants to "non-commercial organisations." The central clearinghouse for these grants is through the Small Business Innovation Research Program. For disabled entrepreneurs, it may be advantageous to consider non-profit businesses that support government initiatives, such as urban development or education. Owners receive a salary in lieu of end-of-the-year profits, and people with disabilities receive special consideration when applying for such grants.

Federal Programs

Start-up business owners with disabilities can seek federal, state and local grants through and, government clearinghouses for financial support. A search through the two websites will reveal programs that accept for-profit businesses or individuals. Government grant programs offer people with disabilities an accelerated application process; the grant coordinator can tell you how to get an application "fast-tracked."

State Programs

Most grants at the state level are in areas such as education, urban development, health services and vocational training. Most states also offer loan guarantee programs to disabled individuals having difficulty getting funding through traditional lenders. An example of this type of loan is the Illinois' Minority, Women and Disabled Participation Loan Programs, which lend participants up to £32,500. Most states also have contract bidding processes with inclusion rules to encourage people with disabilities to bid on state contracts.

Local Programs

Counties and cities also offer grants and loan programs for small business, minorities, military, women and the disabled, as well as business revitalisation programs in economically stressed areas or for the development of commercial corridors. Grant programs can include building improvements, start-ups costs and expansion projects.

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