Veterans Small Business Loans and Programs

Veterans are eligible to get help starting small businesses.

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The U.S. Small Business Administration, in collaboration with the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University, offers training in entrepreneurship and growing small businesses to veterans. Syracuse University has an Institute for Veterans and Military Families that operates the veteran training programs. Various “boot camp” training programs are available; you can learn more about them below.

Transitioning Service Members: Operation Boots to Business

Operation Boots to Business: From Service to Startup is a program offered as part of the standard transitional programs for all newly released service members and continues with an eight-week online training program for any veteran who is interested in participating.

The program teaches how to develop a business plan, accounting, getting money to start your business, and how to present your ideas to investors. Before participating in the online boot program, veterans must first complete the two-day Boots to Business program offered at Transition Assistance Programs (TAP). Veterans who attend the two-day program at TAP will receive a password they can use to register online for the additional eight-week online program.

For further information, visit the Operation Boots to Business: From Service to Startup website or contact the Admissions Coordinator at (315) 443-8791 or kfrontin@syr.edu.

After completing Operation Boots to Business, additional small business training programs are available to eligible veterans.

Women Veterans Igniting the Spirit of Entrepreneurship (VWISE)

VWISE is a program for women veterans only, and is open to any woman veteran who served honorably in the military and who wants to start her own business. This program was recently opened up to spouses and partners of veterans who own businesses.

The program involves an online segment as well as participation in a three-day conference. Conferences are held at various locations around the country. You do not have to pay a fee for the course, and a hotel room and most meals will be taken care of for you. Your only costs will be transportation to the conference and a $75 registration fee. You can request assistance paying the registration fee by emailing vwise@syr.edu.

At the conference, you will meet successful women entrepreneurs, learn about business planning, accounting, marketing and moreYou can apply for the program online. Contact the VWISE Admissions Coordinator at (315) 443-8791 or vwise@syr.edu, for more information, including application deadlines.

Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans With Disabilities (EBV)

The Entrepreneurship Bootcamp for Veterans With Disabilities program is an intensive small business training program available at several universities around the country. The program provides tools and skills for building and growing a business while addressing issues pertaining to disabled veterans, and also aims to create supports for graduates of the program to help them in their business endeavors.

Eligibility for this program requires that:

  • you have a service-connected disability, including a pending disability application with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA)
  • you left military service after 2001 or are now in the process of leaving the service, and
  • you have a strong interest in entrepreneurship.

Please note that your disability rating will not influence whether you are admitted to the program. Admissions decisions are based on your degree of interest in operating a small business and how likely you are to be successful in your venture.

You can complete the EBV Application online. In addition to completing the application, you must also submit two letters of recommendation and a resume (also online). You can direct any questions to the EBV Admissions Coordinator at (315) 443-8791 or ebvinfo@syr.edu.

National Guard and Reserves: Operation Endure and Grow

Operation Endure and Grow is an eight-week online training program for members of the National Guard and Reserves and their families. Former members with service-connected disabilities are also eligible for the EBV program, described above. Operation Endure and Grow teaches business planning and how to finance a business, along with other key business skills including marketing.

The application can be completed online at the EBV website. For questions about the program call (315) 443-8791 or email endureandgrow@syr.edu.

Other Educational Opportunities

Learn about more educational opportunities offered by the Institute for Veterans and Military Families, such as business training opportunities for veterans families, by visiting its website.

Additional Resources

Office of Veterans Business Development

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has an Office of Veterans Business Development and provides many services to veterans including assistance starting small businesses and procuring government contracts. You can reach the main office of the SBA at 202-205-6773. There is also a special staff person for veterans in each state office. Locate the Veterans Business Development Officers in your state on the SBA website.

The SBA also has regional Veterans Business Outreach Centers that provide training, counseling, help with business plans and mentoring. Their services are geared toward the needs of disabled veterans starting their own businesses. Locate a center in your region.

VA Center For Veterans Enterprise

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) also has services to assist veterans with small businesses. These services are provided by the VA Center for Veterans Enterprise.

In addition, the VA will provide preference to veteran-owned businesses when awarding contracts. You must apply for verification to be considered for VA contracts.

Use the Veteran Entrepreneur Portal to find more information about starting a business, finding funding, franchising opportunities that give preference to veterans, and more.

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