Entrepreneurs are always exploring opportunities for growth and expansion, and getting federally recognized is one of the most rewarding milestones to achieve. But what about small business owners who belong to minorities?
The U.S. Small Business Administration introduced the 8a Program to encourage entrepreneurs belonging to different ethnicities, race or religion, to practice their right to business. In other words, disadvantaged entrepreneurs and company owners, who otherwise have minimal chances of growth, now have the opportunity to receive state support for their business.
What Is an 8a Certificate?
The 8a certificate is provided by the 8a Program of the U.S. Small Business Association as direct aid by the government to allow minority businesses and executives to thrive in a secured government market. It essentially means that the certified business is a participant of the nine-year SBA Business Development Program; the first four years are allocated to the developmental stage, while the remaining five years are allocated to the final transition stage.
Being an 8a certificate holder allows businesses to have first-priority claim to various contracts, especially federal ones, without even having to bid for them. Because the United States government is the largest buyer of goods and services, an 8a certificate guarantees the largest client on an enterprise’s portfolio and secured revenue. In other words, 8a certificate holders have great statutory power when it comes to obtaining sole-source contracts – a great achievement for small businesses.
What Does the 8a Business Development Program have To Offer?
Besides offering a chance to work with the federal government without competitors, the program also offers to aid entrepreneurs and small business leaders with skills and resources that promise growth and prosperity. Some examples of support offered by the 8a program are:
- Mentoring for entrepreneurs
- Procurement assistance
- Business counseling
- Skill training
- Financial assistance
- Surety bonding
- Management and technical assistance
The 8a Certificate Program promises a prosperous business cycle for firms that qualify for the certificate. The SBA employs various means of checks and balances to ensure that the companies holding the 8a certificate are on track. Besides the support services, the SBA also offers annual reviews, business planning and systematic evaluations to track progress.
Who is awarded the 8a Certificate?
The certificate is awarded to companies and organizations that are controlled by 51% or more by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Some common minorities who can get certified are:
- African Americans
- Hispanic Americans
- Asian Pacific Americans
- Native Americans
- Subcontinent Asian Americans
Exceptions are made for those who do not fall in the aforementioned categories if they can prove to be disadvantaged on the basis of:
- Race and ethnicity
- Physical handicap
- Long-term residence which is isolated from mainstream American society
Simply put, an 8a certificate is a great way to acquire equal opportunity to perform and contest in almost all business and economic avenues.
The Benefits of Being an 8a Certificate Holder
The U.S. SBA’s 8a Certificate Program is becoming increasingly sought after due to its numerous advantages to businesses owned by disadvantaged entrepreneurs.
Sole Source Contracts
Receiving sole-source contracts without having to bid or compete for them is one of the greatest benefits of an 8a certificate. Contracts can range from $4 million to $7 million for goods, services and manufacturing purposes, providing small businesses invaluable chances to establish their hold. In other words, it sets apart the 8a certified business to be considered for future federal contracts.
Opportunities Set Aside
For 8a certificate holders, the federal government reserves certain acquisitions. This means if an opportunity presents itself, the federal government categorizes it as available to only 8a certificate holders, thereby limiting competition which would otherwise handicap the said organization’s progress.
The 8a certificate holders are liable to participate in various programs for business growth. One such program encourages teaming through the Mentor-Protégé Program and joint venture opportunities. These programs allow small organizations to be mentored by larger and more successful entrepreneurs to improve their business. These learning opportunities help to prime the skills of disadvantaged entrepreneurs for success.
Lesser Processing Time
Acquiring contracts to work on federal projects requires a lot of paperwork, time and bureaucratic measures. Being certified as an 8a company takes lesser time when it comes to these protocols, making it one of the best ways to procure clients.
Being Associated With the Federal Government
8a certificate holder companies and organizations are automatically associated with the federal government. This means that the business is recognized as following fair and federally approved regulations when it comes to pricing, manufacturing and providing services. In other words, the 8a certified businesses are set apart from their contemporaries.
Getting 8a Certified
Will the 8a Certificate Program help your firm procure all types of contracts? The answer is, yes.
No doubt the benefits of the 8a certificate are many. However, the process is no ordinary feat. It requires extensive paperwork and organization of business affairs to simply begin the application process, and disadvantaged entrepreneurs must know that to qualify for the certificate, basic guidelines, like the following, must be observed:
- The business must be able to qualify as a small business under the guidelines set
- The business must show potential for success and be active for at least two years
- The business must be unconditionally owned and controlled by:
– One or more disadvantaged individuals
– United States citizen
– Those who possess good character
Companies interested in obtaining the 8a certificate must also take an online training and self-evaluation course, which is done through the 8a Business Development Sustainability Tool. Firms also have the option to submit either an online application or a paper application.
Although arduous, the process results in a very rewarding future for small businesses and disadvantaged entrepreneurs. Simply put, the 8a certificate is the key to growth and expansion when it comes to small businesses.
The experts at BizCentral USA can help you procure this coveted certification. Call us to learn more at 407-857-9002.