Named for Section 8(a) of the Small Business Act, this program was created to help small and disadvantaged businesses compete in the federal marketplace. A small disadvantaged business must be owned and controlled by at least 51% socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.
Participation in the program is divided into two phases over nine years: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage.
A procurement can be set-aside for 8(a) if:
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 individuals are presumed socially disadvantaged: African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, Native Americans (American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts, or Native Hawaiians), and Subcontinent Asian Americans.
An individual who is not a member of one of the groups listed can be admitted to the program if he/she shows - through a "preponderance of the evidence" (difficult to prove) - that he/she is socially disadvantaged. For instance, an individual may show social disadvantage due to race, ethnic origin, gender, physical handicap, long-term residence in an environment isolated from the mainstream of American society; or other similar causes.
In addition, a socially disadvantaged individual must show economic disadvantage by submitting a narrative and personal financial documentation about one’s income, assets, and net worth.
A business can also qualify for the 8(a) program if an Indian tribe, an Alaska Native Corporation (ANC), a Native-Hawaiian Organization (NHO), or a Community Development Corporation (CDC), owns the firm.
An application for 8(a) certification must be submitted to the Small Business Administration. The application is complex, notoriously problematic, and can take many months in the approval process.
TIP: For more information or questions call the SBA Division of Program Certification & Eligibility at (202) 205-6417.
TIP: Enter the phrase Subpart 19.8 in Google to access the regulations for the program.
Small Disadvantaged Business 8(a) Competition Rules: A procurement can be set-aside for 8(a) if (1) there is a reasonable expectation that at least two eligible and responsible 8(a) firms will submit offers and that award can be made at a fair market price (2) The anticipated total value of the contract, including options, will exceed $6.5 million for acquisitions assigned manufacturing North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes and $4 million for all other acquisitions.