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All About the 8a Business Development Program

 In Blog, Certifications, GovCon Tips

The 8a Business Development Program is a government program which aims to even the playing field for businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. The program offers a myriad of assistance to entities that have 51% control by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. It is a vehicle that aids such disadvantaged entrepreneurs to gain access to the economic mainstream in American society, mostly when it comes to the aspect of government contracts. Government contracts can be quite elusive and frustrating; hence, such programs exist to give the aspiring entrepreneurs the solid footing they require to navigate the waves of the contract business.

Going by the name, the program aims at providing business development support to upcoming businesses in various fields such as Training, Financial assistance, Mentoring, Surety bonding, Procurement assistance, Business counselling, and provision of other technical and management support. Before we delve into the deep, let’s look into some of the perceived benefits of the program.

Benefits of 8(a) Business Development Program

Taking part in this program comes with some benefits such as:

Receiving sole-sourced contracts for business capped to $4 million for goods and services. For a manufacturing business, the business contracts get capped to $6.5 million. While the program equips businesses in both institutional and competitive know-how, it encourages them to involve themselves in competitive acquisitions.

Businesses registered with the 8a program can team up and bid on government contracts. By combining forces, companies can perform or service huge contracts through overcoming contract bundling- the effects alluded to combining two or more contracts.

It’s also worth noting that contracting officers have their quota to meet for their set-aside bonus. Whether a business opportunity has a declared set-aside or not, your business will still enjoy a competitive advantage since the government is mandated to set aside at least $25 billion towards small and disadvantaged businesses. As such, it gives the contracting officers the chance to work on your entity aimed at hitting their quota.

By business entities registering for the program, they can get exposure from other seasoned business entities when it comes to learning the ropes. The program achieves this through the Mentor Protege Program.

Since the program certification lasts up to nine years, your business has the potential of earning up to $100 million or five times the SBA (Small Business Administration) limit. Most business entities hit this target during that period.


Requirements For The 8a Program

The first step is usually associated with potential candidates checking out their Small Business Administration‘s (SBA) size standards. It doesn’t matter the nature of your business, there is always a North American Industry Classification Standard (NAICS) code associated with your business. Your SBA will determine the size of your entity by your workforce or your annual revenues. For instance, if your firm deals in manufacturing machine tools accessories or machine cutting tools, its NAICS code will be 333515. For the entity’s consideration as a small business, it must have less than five hundred employees.

The next requirement centers on the business owner. According to the stipulated rules of the 8a Program, the entity applying for the program has to be 51% owned by people who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Further to this, they have to take part in the daily operation and planning of the business. The question stands. What does it mean to be economically and socially disadvantaged?

Simply put it means;

Individuals who have experienced or been a subject of either ethnic, cultural, or racial prejudice within the American society due to them identifying or subscribing to particular groups without regarding their individual qualities. Further, their social disadvantages must emanate from factors beyond their control.

Such groups of people under this category would include; African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asia Pacific Americans, Native Americans, Sub-continent Asian Americans, and any other group of individuals classified by the SBA from time to time.

Under the social disadvantage bracket, we have; the physically handicapped, gender affiliations, Being a long term residence in a placed ascribed as being isolated from the mainstream American society, and any quality that makes one a target for discrimination or prejudice that is beyond one’s control.

The second stage highlights the economic disadvantage part which states that;

Socially disadvantaged individuals whose ability to take part in a free enterprise system hasn’t been successful due to lack of credit opportunities or diminished financial capabilities in comparison to others who are in the same line of business or who aren’t disadvantaged socially.

To qualify for the program, one has to meet the government programs socio-economic requirements as mentioned above. Other factors that are taken into account to be eligible for the program has to do with personal income, net worth and one’s value in personal assets as outlined below:

  1. Have a personal net worth of $250,000 or below
  2. Have an adjustable three-year gross income of $250, 000 or less
  3. The owner’s assets should be $4,000,000 or lower.


Requirements for Registration

Before registration, each entity or firm needs to take an online assessment evaluation to gauge its suitability for the course. The first segment of the course explains the program in detail, which culminates in a self-assessment eligibility test. The test comprises of simple yes and no answers aimed at evaluating the degree to which one’s entity meets the stipulated requirements of the 8a program. In the eventuality that your firm doesn’t match the stated requirements, you’ll get directed to the SBA resource tasked to aid you at that time.

The application process typically gets done electronically. If, however, you would like to do it on paper, you are required to get in touch with your local SBA District’s office to obtain the necessary application papers.



It is imperative for local firms or businesses that view themselves as economically and socially disadvantaged to register for such development programs to take advantage of federal allocations. Despite the registration process being hard, the benefits remain to be quite immense and would boost one’s business to the next level keeping in mind that such allocations will always be forthcoming.

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