8 (a) Business Development Program
SBA's 8(a) Business Development Program offers a broad scope of assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged firms; it was created to help eligible small disadvantaged businesses become independently competitive in the federal procurement market.
A firm must be 51% owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual or individuals to be eligible for the 8(a) Program; 8(a) firms automatically qualify for SDB certification. Unlike the SDB Program, 8(a) applicants must generally be in business for at least two years before applying. The SBA must certify small businesses that want to claim 8(a) status.
Program participation is divided into two stages: the developmental stage and the transitional stage. The developmental stage is four years and the transitional stage is five years. The developmental stage is designed to help 8(a) certified firms overcome their economic disadvantage by providing business development assistance. The transitional stage is designed to help participants overcome the remaining elements of economic disadvantage and to prepare participants for leaving the 8(a) Program.
The requirements to enroll in the SBA's 8(a) Program are similar to those for SDBs with the exception that an applicant's personal net worth must be less than $250,000 (excluding the applicant's ownership interest of the business and primary residence) for initial eligibility. For continued 8(a) eligibility after admission to the program, net worth must be less than $750,000. The SBA will also consider the individual's average two-year income, fair market value of all assets, access to credit and capital, and the financial condition of the applicant firm in evaluating economic disadvantage.
Firms participating in the 8(a) Program may take advantage of specialized business training, counseling, marketing assistance, and high-level executive development provided by the SBA and its resource partners. They may also be eligible for SBA-guaranteed loans and bonding assistance. In addition, 8(a) Program participants are eligible to participate in the SBA's Mentor-Prot?g? Program.
More information on the 8(a) Business Development Program