Understanding the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program

If you are a small business owner interested in bidding on government contracts, then the Small Business Administration's (SBA) 8(a) Business Development program may be the solution you have been searching for. To better understand this popular program, here is some basic information:

An Overview of the SBA's 8(a) Business Development Program

Every year the federal government reserves a certain percentage of their contracts for economically disadvantaged small business owners to bid on without competition from larger companies. This is done to promote growth in the small business sector, and it is also done to help people and small businesses located in economically and socially disadvantaged areas climb their way out of poverty. 

In order for your small business to be able to bid on these special contracts, it needs to be enrolled in the SBA's 8(a) Business Development program. 

The Qualifications of the 8(a) Business Development Program

To qualify for the 8(a) Business Development program, your small business needs to meet many qualifications set by the federal government and the SBA, including the following:

  • You must have certification as a small business.
  • Primary ownership of the business must be by someone with a low income and asset ownership.
  • The business owner must run the day-to-day decision-making and operational tasks.

In addition, the small business must prove it has the potential to succeed if it is awarded a government contract.

Further information about the federal code governing the 8(a) program qualifications can be found here.

How to Apply for the 8(a) Business Development Program

In order for your business to enter the 8(a) Business Development program, first, you must have it certified as a small business by the SBA. You can start this task on their website.

Once your business has been certified, then you can apply to be entered into the program. If you are successful, your membership will last for about a decade and you will receive a letter showing your acceptance and explaining your next steps.

Where to Turn for Further Information or Assistance

Finally, if you have decided to apply for the SBA's 8(a) Business Development program, then you can obtain further information by contacting the SBA directly or by working with a third-party company who assists small businesses with navigating the often confusing world of federal government contracts and the SBA 8(a) application process, such as ARA Consulting, LLC. Once admitted to the program, you also have the option of working with a mentor through the 8(a) Mentor-Protege program.