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Aspiring 8a

8(a) Certification Starter Kit

The 8(a) Certification Program is the SBA (Small Business Administration) Program designed to provide preferential treatment to small businesses and their owners who have suffered from past discrimination and/or cultural bias. These firms are typically minority owned businesses, although women and service-disabled veterans can qualify for the federal certification.

The mechanism for the operation of the 8(a) program is the SBA obtains sole-source federal contracts on behalf of the 8(a) firm which then serves as the subcontractor to the SBA. By having the SBA serve as the contractor to the federal agency, the SBA is able to cut the majority of the red-tape associated with federal contracting. This enables the 8(a) small business to more easily obtain large federal contracts, relative to the firm’s size and capabilities. The certification also allows for set-aside contracts whereby only 8(a) program participants are invited to compete, as well as the ability for 8(a) firms to joint venture with larger business enterprises.

In recent years, 8(a) firms have obtained over 8% of Federal Spending. As you can see from the table below, the growth in 8(a) spending has been significant over the past decade.

Year - 8(a) Spending in Billions - Average per Firm in Millions
2012 - $32.3B - $3.6MM

2013 - $30.6B - $3.2MM

2014 - $34.7B - $3.9MM

2015 - $35.4B - $4.2MM

2016 - $39.1B - $6.0MM

2017 - $40.2B - $6.3MM

2018 - $40.2B - $6.3MM

2019 - $46.0B - $8.2MM

Most Common 8(a) Firm Types (based upon dynamic small business data search)

Business Industry


IT (Information Technology) and Consulting








IT, Consulting and Construction make up approximately 70% of 8(a) firms. That being said, some of the most successful clients I have worked with have been 8(a) firms that found a specific niche working with a federal agency. So, do not let these numbers discourage you if you are in another industry. There is no set rule that applies to successful 8(a) contracting other than making sure your firm has a well thought out and executed marketing program. In my opinion, these two factors generally yield a high growth rate for a firm.

If you have any questions on getting qualified for an 8(a) Certification, or would like a more in-depth analysis on the specifics of your small business, I always recommend consulting with an industry expert such as ez8a. Here is a link to the 8(a) Pre-Qualification Tool on their website:  https://www.ez8a.com/pre-qualification-tool.aspx They can also be reached at (859)442-3300. They do not charge for an initial consultation.


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