By Norman Eng, U.S. Small Business Administration
Did you know that the SBA has a program designed to help small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal marketplace? The 8(a) Business Development Program offers a broad scope of assistance eligible small businesses.
Am I eligible?
Generally, to be approved into the 8(a) program and become certified, your small business must be owned and controlled at least 51 percent by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are American citizens. You should also be able to demonstrate potential for business success and possess good character.
What are the benefits?
Once certified, you can take advantage of specialized business training, counseling, marketing assistance and high-level executive development provided by the SBA and our resource partners. You may also be eligible for assistance in obtaining access to surplus government property and supplies, SBA-guaranteed loans, and bonding assistance for being involved in the program. You can also receive sole-source contracts (up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing).
While SBA helps 8(a) firms build their competitive and institutional know-how, the agency also encourages you to participate in competitive acquisitions.
What else should I know?
Participation in the 8(a) Program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage; the overall goal of which is to graduate 8(a) businesses that will go on to thrive in a competitive business environment. To learn more about eligibility, how to apply and more, you can visit the SBA website at www.sba.gov/contracting.
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