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Before You Apply to the 8(a) Program

Before you apply for SBA certification into the 8(a) Business Development program, ask yourself these questions: 

  • Do all principals show good character?
  • Is the firm organized as a for-profit business?
  • Is the firm a small business that meets the SBA size standard?
  • Has the firm been conducting ongoing business for at least two years?
    • Does the firm have "established filings" with the state, county and city where it does business (established filings mean the articles, permits, etc.) and are the fillings signed, dated, and stamped by the state that issued them?
    • Does the firm have tax returns and financial statements that show its growth and potential to succeed?
  • Do one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals:
    • Own a majority (51% or more) of the firm?
    • Serve as the highest officer?
    • Manage the firm?
    • Control the board of directors?
    • Run the firm’s daily business operations?
    • Receive the highest pay from the firm?

If you answered “Yes” to all of the questions, you may be eligible to participate in the 8(a) Business Development program. Firms owned by an entity (rather than an individual) have different requirements.  Eligible entities include Alaska Native Corporations  (ANCs),  Native American Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations (NHOs), and Community Development  Corporations (CDCs). 

Supporting Documents

After answering “Yes” to all of the questions above, consider whether you have documents and evidence supporting your responses. The time you spend gathering supporting documents before you apply helps speed up the application process and enables SBA to determine your application's status faster. If you do not have documents supporting your submission and responses, SBA will return the application to you or decline the application. Remember, the ultimate goal of nine years of participation in the 8(a) program is developing the firm so that it has long-term viability in the private sector. 

What types of Supporting Documents Are Required?

Both the firm and individuals involved in the firm must submit documents to SBA to ultimately support the following: 

  • The firm’s corporate legal status
  • The firm’s and the principal’s current ongoing daily business activity
  • The firm's and the principal's prior, current, and long-term business plans and relationships
  • The character of the firm's owners and managers and all principals
  • The disadvantaged individual’s managerial ability and technical expertise
  • The technical experts in the firm
  • The firm’s financial capacity
  • The firm’s potential to become successful in the private sector

See the checklist of supporting documents SBA requires before your firm can be approved into the program.   

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