How To Get an SBA 8(a) Certification (With Definition)

A company that has earned an 8a certification is one that is a part of the 8(a) Business Development Program. For more information on 8a certification, we can also consult the US Small Business Administration (SBA). According to the SBA, the 8a Business Development Program (technically the “8(a) Business Development Program”) satisfies the federal government’s goal of allocating at least 5% of contract dollars to small, disadvantaged businesses.

Numerous entrepreneurs who are just starting out are able to access government contracts by earning an 8a certification. The 8a Business Development Program is a crucial chance for small business owners who are economically and socially disadvantaged in making this possible. According to the federal Minority Business Development Agency (MDBA), it allows a lot of people access to “the economic mainstream of American society.”

8a Certification

What are the benefits of earning an SBA 8(a) certification?

Small business owners who obtain an SBA 8(a) certification stand to gain financially from access to federal contracts created especially for 8(a) businesses. You can be qualified for two different types of specialty government contracts by obtaining an 8(a) certification. The first one is a set-aside contract, which only allows small businesses participating in the 8(a) program to compete. The second is a sole-source contract, which the government awards without conducting a formal, open competition for bids.

Earning an SBA 8(a) certification has advantages beyond just the financial incentives. These include:

What is an SBA 8(a) certification?

In order to persuade federal agencies to award contracts to companies participating in the 8(a) program, the SBA collaborates with those agencies. An 8(a) business can access those federal contracting preferences once it is certified. Throughout the program, these small business owners also receive technical assistance and training to support the expansion of their enterprises.

How to get an SBA 8(a) certification

The actions you can take to obtain an SBA 8(a) certification and take part in the program are as follows:

1. Meet eligibility requirements

Check to see if you meet the SBA’s program requirements before you start the 8(a) certification application. Typically, the program only takes into account entrepreneurs who have been running their business for at least two years. Other requirements include:

2. Gather supporting documents

Organize the supporting documents you will need to submit the application once you have determined that you are eligible for the program. The SBA may require different documentation based on your business. You might want to have personal and business financial statements, federal tax returns, and bank statements on hand. Additionally, it can be useful to submit copies of state-approved documents with your application, such as business licenses or permits. Having access to these documents can assist you with many aspects of the program application.

3. Register your business

Owners of businesses must sign up in the System for Award Management (SAM) according to SBA regulations. You demonstrate that your company has a Tax Identification Number (TIN) or Employer Identification Number (EIN) to pay taxes when you register your business. You must have a Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number in order to register for SAM because this number serves as your company’s identification when you apply for federal grants. Online setup for a free DUNS number for your company is possible. You can use that information to access the SBA’s website once you’ve registered in SAM to start the application process.

4. Write a narrative

Before starting the application, it’s a good idea to write a narrative about the social and economic hardships you’ve experienced as a small business owner. When deciding whether to accept you into the program, the SBA is likely to take into account this narrative, which is a crucial component of your application. In your narrative, give specific examples to persuade the reader that you qualify for the program. You can bolster your story with additional evidence, like personal testimonials from people who know you well or media coverage of your company, like newspaper articles.

5. Apply to the program

After you’ve written a narrative and gathered supporting materials, you can finish the program application. You have two options for submitting your application: online through the SBA’s website or on paper, which you can obtain from your neighborhood SBA district office. Its free to apply to the program. The SBA has 90 days from the time it receives your application to review it and decide whether to accept you. A formal notification will be sent to you via email or regular mail.

6. Meet with an SBA representative

It’s crucial to meet with a local SBA representative to obtain official certification as an 8(a) business owner if you are accepted into the program. Check the SBA website to locate one close to you. The agency has many district offices all over the nation. Download a 1010c form from the SBA in advance of your appointment with the representative, which serves as your legal 8(a) business plan. There are numerous questions on the form that can assist you in determining your objectives for taking part in the program. Your SBA representative can help you fill out this form.

7. Maintain eligibility

After earning your 8(a) certification, you must continue to take part in the program for nine years. To continue to be eligible for federal contracts, it’s crucial to comply with the program’s requirements. You can anticipate finishing a review as part of the program every year to confirm you’re complying with the SBA’s regulatory requirements. You may also be required by the SBA to demonstrate that you are receiving both government and commercial contracts. Each year, you can deliver this information to your neighborhood SBA office.

Please note that Indeed is not affiliated with any of the businesses mentioned in this article.


How do you create an 8a?

To qualify for the 8(a) program, businesses must meet the following eligibility criteria:
  1. Be a small business.
  2. Not have previously participated in the 8(a) program.
  3. Be at least 51% owned and controlled by U. S. citizens who are socially and economically disadvantaged.

How long is an 8a good for?

The Small Business Association (SBA) of the US government sponsors the SBA (8a) ownership/diversity certification. The 8(a) program is a nine-year business development initiative that offers certified small businesses business training, counseling, marketing support, and technical assistance.

What is 8a status?

You can benefit from the 8a Program for nine years after completing your business certification. Nevertheless, you must continue reiterating your disadvantaged status each year.

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