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The 8(a) Business Development Program was developed by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) in order to assist in the growth of firms meeting certain eligiblity requirements relating to the ownership of the business being socially or economically disadvantaged.
Participation in the 8(a) program is a nine-year process, split into a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage. When in the program, businesses are eligible to receive certain sole-source contracts, form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts that might otherwise be prohibitive to them to bid on individually, and to participate in a Mentor-Protege program under the auspices of the 8(a) program (under which the Protege benefits from rules allowing for certain forms of financial and technical assistance from the Mentor).
Application to the 8(a) program may be made through the SBA website at https://certify.sba.gov/8a-docs.
Are there multiple agencies that offer this certification? Certification is only with the SBA.
Does this program require bidders attempt to make a good-faith effort to meet participation goals? The SBA maintains it as a goal to spend at least 5 percent of total federal contract spending with small disadvantaged businesses each year, however, this is a federal goal.