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What is the 8(a) Certification Program?

The 8(a) Program is a Small Business Administration program which intends to provide assistance to economically and socially disadvantaged business owners. It originated out of Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act—hence its name. It provides participants with access to a variety of business development services, including the opportunity to receive federal contracts on a sole-source or limited competition basis. The program has been an important one for thousands of minority entrepreneurs over the past few years.

What are the Eligibility Requirements?
Entrepreneurs seeking to gain entrance into the SBA’s 8(a) program must meet a number of criteria in such areas as ownership, management, and likelihood of success. These are the following:

• Must qualify as a small business enterprise as defined by the Small Business Administration’s rules and regulations.
• Must be majority-owned (51 percent or more) by an individual or individual(s) who is an American citizen.
• Majority owners of the applicant firm have to meet the SBA definition of a socially and economically disadvantaged group.
• The management and daily business operations of a firm must be controlled by an owner of the firm who has been determined to be socially and economically disadvantaged.
• At least one full-time manager who qualifies under SBA definitions as a disadvantaged person must hold the position of president or CEO in the company.
• The individual or individuals claiming disadvantage must demonstrate that they personally suffered disadvantage, not just that the group of which they are a member has historically been considered to be disadvantaged.
• Individuals claiming economic disadvantage can not have a personal net worth in excess of $250,000, excluding the equity in their business and primary residence.
• Applicants have to show that they have been in business in the industry area to which they are applying for at least two years prior to the date of their 8(a) application. Otherwise they must show substantial business knowledge in the area in which their business operates.
• Applicants have to be deemed by the SBA to have a good probability of success in the industry in which they are involved.
• Businesses owned by Caucasian women may also be eligible for the program.

How to Apply to the 8(a) Program?
The SBA has an online process for the 8(a) Application as well as a hard copy of the application is submitted. Small business owners will be asked to provide a wide range of materials, ranging from personal and business financial statements to organization charts, licenses, and schedules of business insurance.

For more information on how to apply, you may call us at 859-757-1022 or visit our website a Our 8(a) consultants will be glad to assist.