Administrator McMahon is a notable advocate of U.S. small business. During her confirmation hearing, she articulated her stance favoring a fair and competitive government procurement process. In light of the Administrator's statement, it's important to review the SBA's 8(a) Business Development Program, which helps small business gain a foothold in the bidding process for contracts.
There are over 6 million minority-owned businesses in the U.S. However, less than .01 percent of these firms participate in SBA's 8(a) program. This program offers many incentives designed to strengthen the profitability and operations of small, economically and socially disadvantaged businesses. These benefits must not be overlooked.
Participants in the 8(a) program can achieve a competitive advantage in government procurement. Many agencies are required to have small business set-asides, or contracting opportunities exclusively reserved for small business. By combining the power of the set-aside with an 8(a) certification, program participants are eligible to receive sole-source contracts, which carry a $4 million ceiling for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing.
Every first Wednesday of the month, SBA's 8(a) team hosts a Straight Talk teleconference designed to answer your questions about the program. Often, callers will ask about the determinants that we use for eligibility in the 8(a) application process. Fortunately, our website offers an eligibility checklist which prospective firms can reference at their convenience.
*The 7 primary eligibility requirements that a firm must meet in order to receive approval to the 8(a) program include:
• The business must be majority-owned (51 percent or more) by an individual(s).
• The individual(s) must be an American citizen, by birth or naturalization.
• The business must be majority-owned (51 percent or more) and controlled/managed by socially and economically disadvantaged individual(s).
• The individual(s) controlling and managing the firm on a full-time basis must meet the SBA requirement for disadvantage, by proving both social disadvantage and economic disadvantage.
• The business must be a small business.
• The business must demonstrate potential for success.
• The principals must show good character.
*These are only the primary eligibility requirements. Please contact your local SBA district office or one of our many resource partners for a free, one-on-one assistance session to understand all requirements. To find an office near you, please visit: https://www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance
The SBA wants to help you explore the 8(a) program, as well as our multitude of other programs and resources. Visit a local district office or resource partner today and get started on this incredible opportunity for your business in 2017!