Get SBA 8(a) Certified

The SBA administers two particular business assistance programs for small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs). These programs are the 8(a) Business Development Program and the Small Disadvantaged Business Certification Program. While the 8(a) Program offers a broad scope of assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged firms, SDB certification strictly pertains to benefits in Federal procurement. Companies which are 8(a) firms automatically qualify for SDB certification.

New regulations permit 8(a) companies to form beneficial teaming partnerships and allow Federal agencies to streamline the contracting process. New rules make it easier for non-minority firms to participate by proving their social disadvantage. We also have implemented the new Mentor-Protégé Program to allow starting 8(a) companies to learn the ropes from experienced businesses. Our task is to teach 8(a) and other small companies how to compete in the Federal contracting arena and how to take advantage of greater subcontracting opportunities available from large firms as the result of public-private partnerships.

Eligibility Requirements

To qualify for the program, a small business must be owned and controlled by a socially and economically disadvantaged individual. Under the Small Business Act, certain presumed groups include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Native Americans, and Subcontinent Asian Americans. Other individuals can be admitted to the program if they show through a "preponderance of the evidence" that they are disadvantaged because of race, ethnicity, gender, physical handicap, or residence in an environment isolated from the mainstream of American society. In order to meet the economic disadvantage test, all individuals must have a net worth of less than $250,000, excluding the value of the business and personnel residence.

Successful applicants must also meet applicable size standards for small business concerns; be in business for at least two years; display reasonable success potential; and display good character. Although the two-year requirement may be waived, firms must continue to comply with various requirements while in the program.

Getting Started

To do business with the Federal government and to be certified under the 8(a) Program or as an SDB, you must register in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database, and complete the Small Business Supplemental Page within CCR. As a government-wide single point of vendor registration, CCR is a key aspect of streamlining and integrating electronic commerce into the Federal procurement process. Effective October 1, 2003, Federal Acquisition Regulation require contractors to register in CCR prior to award of any contract, basic agreement, basic ordering agreement, or blanket purchase  agreement. It’s easy to register in CCR. Just go to and select the “Start a New Registration” button.

There are hundreds of millions of federal government dollars awarded each year to qualified minority businesses. These funds are provided as 100% set aside contracts to small disadvantaged businesses through the Small Business Administration 8(a) Business Development Program without public notice or competition. You are entitled to receive 8(a) funding from the U.S. government if you are a qualified minority business owner with American citizenship.

Applying to the 8(a) Program

You can apply to the 8(a) Program by contacting any SBA district office.

 For additional information:
 U.S. Small Business Administration
 HUBZone Program
 409 Third Street, SW, 8th Floor
 Washington, D.C. 20416
 Phone: 202-205-8885 - Fax: 202-205-7167

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8(A) Self Certification Guide