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Small Business 8a Development Program

The Small Business Administration (SBA) runs the Small Business 8a Development Program to help small, disadvantaged businesses acquire contracts from the government. The 8(a) program is a strong nine-year program. In particular, the government's goal is to give at least 5% of all contracts to these companies every year. 

Businesses that participate in the program get training and technical help to help them compete better in the American economy. Small businesses that are owned by Alaska Native corporations, Community Development Corporations, Indian tribes, and Native Hawaiian organizations are also able to take part in the 8(a) program.

SBA works with federal agencies to get the most out of the 8(a) program and ensures everyone has the same chance to get contracts in the federal marketplace. Once you are certified, 8(a) program participants can get preferential treatment regarding federal contracts. You can also get training and technical help to help you compete better.

The 8(a) program can help socially and economically disadvantaged small business owners who have been in business for at least two years and want to grow in the federal market. It also helps businesses in unique and helpful ways. However, the program certification does not guarantee that a company will get a contract, but it is a powerful tool to find and take advantage of new government opportunities.

Firms that have been approved by the 8(a) program can:

  • Compete and get set-aside (which means low competition limited to small businesses only) and sole-source contracts
  • Receive one-on-one business development help for the next nine years from Business Opportunity Specialists whose job it is to help businesses grow and reach their goals
  • Through the SBA Mentor-Protégé program, you can try to get help from firms with more experience and better technology.
  • Talk to procurement and compliance experts who know how rules affect business growth, finances, and government contracts
  • Join forces with other businesses to increase your capacity.
  • Qualify to receive federal surplus property on a priority basis
  • Receive free training from the SBA's 7(j) Management and Technical Assistance Program

For your business to be eligible for the 8(a) program, it must meet the following criteria:

  • Be a small business set by the standards of SBA
  • You should not have taken part in the 8(a) program before.
  • At least 51% of your business must be owned and run by socially and economically disadvantaged U.S. citizens.
  • Have a net worth of less than $850,000, an adjusted gross income of less than $400,000, and assets worth less than $6.5 million
  • Show that you have good character
  • Show that you have a chance of succeeding, such as by being in business for two years

8(a) certification can only be used for up to nine years. The first four years are called the development stage, and the last five years are called the transition stage. To stay in the program, you have to keep meeting the program's requirements.

Before applying to the program, you must also identify your primary NAICS code(s) and register your business in the System for Award Management (SAM).

Want this certification? We can help you.

Getting into the SBA 8a Program and meeting the requirements for 8a certification can require a lot of time and effort. It may be very confusing and lucrative. If you have questions about or need help applying to the 8(a) Business Development program, give us a call!

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