8(a) program

The SBA 8(a) Program provides SDBs with a wide variety of business development support and other management and technical assistance, including contracting with the Army in sole source and competitive set- asides. Learn more

Eligibility Criteria

  • Small firms qualify as SDBs if they are at least 51 percent owned by one or more individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are citizens of the United States. For exceptions, see below.
  • A publicly owned business may be considered an SDB if:
    • at least 51 percent of its stock is unconditionally owned by one or more disadvantaged individuals; and
    • the public company's management and daily business is controlled by one or more such individuals.
  • Socially disadvantaged groups are those who have been, historically, subjected to "racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias" within the larger American culture, including:
    • African Americans o Asian Pacific Americans
    • Hispanic Americans o Native Americans
    • Subcontinent Asian Americans
    • Members of other groups may qualify if they can satisfactorily demonstrate they meet established criteria

Economically disadvantaged individuals have been hampered in their ability to compete in the free enterprise system due to impaired access to financial opportunities, in contrast to people in similar businesses who are not identified as socially disadvantaged. The net worth of each individual does not exceed $750,000 subject to certain exemptions.

SBA changed the certification procedures for SDBs, where offerors can self-certify as long as the agency continues to meet its SDB goals.

Note: Based on the Mission Critical Solutions (MCS) protest, GAO ruling in May 2009 changed the order of priority for small business programs, putting the competitive HUBZone first. When awarding contracts, to include year-end procurements, the contracting officer cannot go directly to an 8(a) (sole source or competitive) without first doing the market research to determine if the procurement should be a HUBZone set aside. The MCS decision found that the Small Business Administration's (SBA's) regulatory framework implementing the HUBZone and 8(a) programs was contrary to statute.














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