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8(a) Certification

Sponsored by the SBA, the 8(a) certification program is an ownership diversity campaign. The certification is aimed to assist organizations that are 51 percent owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals.

The 8(a) Certification’s primary goal is to help disadvantaged small businesses go on and thrive in a competitive business environment once the nine-year program is completed.

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8(a) Program Overview

According to the SBA, African-Americans, Hispanic-Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Native Americans, and Subcontinent Asian Americans are considered socially and economically disadvantaged. Those who do not belong to any of the groups can otherwise be admitted to the program if they can show that their small business is disadvantaged due to race, ethnic origin, gender, physical handicap, or social isolation. 

The goal of the U.S. Federal Government is to award a minimum of five percent of all federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses annually.

The 8(a) program is a nine-year business development program that provides business training, counseling, technical help, and marketing assistance to firms that have been certified through the application process. 

The Details

To further assist and provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people, the government limits competition for individual contracts to companies that participate in the 8(a) development program.

An 8A Certification is initially awarded to a company for five years and then renewable for one consecutive four-year term.

While it can be an extremely lucrative program, it is competitive and challenging to qualify for. At GSE, we can help you get the application process started and lead the way to an 8(a) Certification for your small business. 

8(a) Certification Eligibility

It is not easy to receive the 8(a) certification, and it can be a challenge just to apply. However, with GSE’s assistance, you can obtain certification and participate in the highly-profitable program.

As of 2020, to qualify for the 8(a) socially or economically disadvantaged business program, you must:

  • Be a small business
  • Not already have participated in the 8(a) program.
  • Be at least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are economically and socially disadvantaged.
  • Be owned by someone whose personal net worth is $250,000 or less.
  • Be owned by someone whose average adjusted gross income for three years is $250,000 or less.
  • Be owned by someone with $4 million or less in assets.
  • Have the owner manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions
  • Have all its principals demonstrate good character
  • Show potential for success and be able to perform successfully on contracts.

8(a) Certification Benefits

The benefits that accompany an 8(a) Program Certification can help your disadvantaged business prosper. In addition to a mandatory five percent of federal contracting dollars, the 8(a) Certification offers benefits to qualified firms such as:

  • Limited competition for set-aside and sole-source contracts in the program
  • Receive management and technical assistance, including business training, counseling, marketing assistance, and high-level executive development that can push your small business to the next level
  • You can compete for contract awards under multiple socio-economic programs, as they apply—opening doors for you individually and as a business. 
  • An 8(a) firm will benefit from focusing on running their business rather than preparing and submitting complex responses to solicitations
  • Limited competition – only 8500 companies are 8(a) certified out of 24 million businesses in the USA.
  • Access to joint venture/mentor protégée programs.

How GSE Can Assist with 8(a) Certification

Although there are countless benefits to being an 8(a) Certified business, it can be tremendously challenging to be accepted by the SBA. The agency is always making steps to assist disadvantaged small businesses, but the application, acceptance, and paperwork process are still unfit for the general public. 

By hiring the GSE professionals, your business will receive a dedicated group of experts who can lead you to a better chance of becoming 8(a) Certified. Forget the complications of handling the Federal Government, and let GSE assist your firm. Fill out the form below to get the process started.


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