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Mentor-Protégé Program

The 8(a) Business Development (8(a) BD) Mentor-Protégé Program is designed to enable successful firms provide various forms of business development assistance to 8(a) BD Program Participants. The goal of the 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé Program is to enhance the capability of 8(a) Program Participants to be competitive, achieve entrepreneurial success, and contribute to the strength and vigor of our economy.

Please review the full and complete requirements for the SBA 8(a) Mentor Protégé Program (review SBA regulations 13 CFR 124.520)


The purpose of the 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé relationship is to:

  • Enhance the capabilities of the protégé (an 8(a) BD Program Participant),
  • Assist the protégé with meeting the goals established in its SBA-approved business plan, and
  • Improve the protégé’s ability to successfully compete for contracts.

Benefits of 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé program

  • Technical and management assistance

The mentor’s expertise, resources, and capabilities are made available to the protégé.

  • Contracting

Mentors can provide assistance relevant to performance of non-8(a) contracts so that protégé firms more fully develop their competitive capabilities.

Mentors can enter into joint-venture arrangements with protégés to compete for, and perform on, certain federal government contracts.

  • Financial assistance in the form of equity and/or loans

Mentors can own up to 40% in of the protégé to help it raise capital.

Eligibility and How to Enter the 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé Program

What are the requirements to become a protégé?

8(a) firms should consult with their SBA District Office Business Opportunity Specialist BEFORE they apply for the 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé program.

To be a protégé a firm must meet several conditions.

  • The firm must be a participant in the 8(a) BD Program.
  • The firm must meet at least one of the following three conditions:
    • Be in the developmental stage of the 8(a) BD Program,


  • Have never received an 8(a) contract,


  • Be less than half the size of the small business size standard corresponding to its primary NAICS code.
  • The 8(a) firm must
    • Be in good standing with SBA Program requirements


  • Be current with all SBA reporting requirements.
  • Protégés may generally have only one mentor at a time.
    • However, SBA may authorize a second mentor after review of the request.

Take a look at the SBA regulations to understand the review process when a second mentor is proposed. [Please review SBA regulations 13 CFR 124.520(b)].

  • SBA will not approve a mentor-protégé relationship where the proposed protégé has less than six months remaining in its program term.

Please review the full and complete requirements for the SBA 8(a) BD Mentor Protégé Program (Please review SBA regulations 13 CFR 124.520).

What are the requirements to become a mentor in the 8(a) BD Mentor Protégé program?

For the 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé program, the mentor can be any of the following:

  • Graduated 8(a) firm
  • Current 8(a) firm in the transitional stage
  • A small business
  • A large business
  • A  non-profit entity

To be a mentor, an entity must:

  • Demonstrate a commitment and ability to assist developing an 8(a) BD Program Participant.
  • Make a commitment to assist its protégé for a least one year. 
  • Demonstrate all of the following:
    • That it possesses favorable financial health.
    • That it possesses good character.
    • That it is a federal contractor in good standing (it does not appear on the federal list of debarred or suspended contractor firms).
    • That it can provide valuable assistance to a protégé through lessons learned and/or practical experience gained
    • Through its participation in the 8(a) BD program, or
    • Through its knowledge of general business operations and/or government contracting.
    • Generally, a mentor will not have more than one protégé at a time.
      •  However, SBA can authorize a mentor to have more than one protégé at a time.

Please review the SBA regulations to understand the review process when more than one protégé is proposed. [Please review SBA regulations 13 CFR 124.520(b)].

  • Under no circumstances will a mentor be permitted to have more than three protégés at one time.

Please review the full and complete requirements here for the 8(a) BD Mentor Protégé Program (Please review SBA regulations 13 CFR 124.520).

How does a firm enter the 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé program?

All 8(a) BD Mentor - Protégé relationships must be approved by SBA.

  • Before requesting SBA approval, the proposed Mentor and proposed the protégé (the 8(a) firm) draft a written agreement for SBA review and approval.
  • SBA will review that written agreement to determine if it outlines the protégé’s needs and describes the assistance the mentor intends to commit.
  • The written agreement must meet all of the following requirements:
    • Address how the assistance to be provided through the agreement will help the protégé firm meet the goals established in the 8(a) firm’s SBA-approved business plan;
  • Establish a single point of contact in the mentor firm who is responsible for managing and implementing the mentor/protégé agreement; and
  • Provide that the mentor will provide such assistance to the protégé firm for at least one year.

The written agreement will not be approved by SBA unless it meets all the requirements under the SBA regulations found at 13 CFR 124.520 [Please take a look at 13 CFR 124.520(e) for the complete requirements].

Before submitting the written agreement to SBA for review, please review the full and complete requirements for the SBA 8(a) Mentor Protégé Program (Take a look at SBA regulations 13 CFR 124.520, 520(e))

What happens after an 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé Agreement is approved?

  • If approved, SBA conducts annual reviews to determine the success of the mentor-protégé relationship. 
  • The protégé must annually certify to SBA whether there has been any change in the terms of the agreement.
  • The mentor must annually certify to favorable financial health and good character.

Please review the full list of annual requirements the Mentor-Protégé relationship must meet (Take a look at SBA regulations 13 CFR 124.520(g)]

Can an 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé Agreement be cancelled by SBA?

  • Yes, SBA may decide to discontinue the agreement if it finds that the mentor has not provided the assistance set forth in the Mentor-Protégé Agreement or that the assistance has not resulted in any material benefits to the protégé.

What if I do not qualify for the 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé Program?

The SBA has a number of other programs and services available. These include training and educational programs, advisory services, publications, financial programs, and contract assistance. The agency also offers specialized programs for women business owners, veterans, and historically underutilized business zone (HUBZone) for small business growth.

How do I find more information about the 8(a) BD Mentor-Protégé Program?

SBA Answer Desk - Phone: (800) 827-5722


You can also find the nearest SBA District Office here

Remember, only currently approved 8(a) firms can apply for the program. Contact your SBA District Office and the Business Opportunity Specialist assigned to the 8(a) firm.

The SBA has offices located around the country. For the one nearest you, call the Small Business Answer Desk at 1-800-8-ASK-SBA, or (202) 205-7064 (FAX). For the hearing impaired, the TDD number is (202) 205-7333.


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