The SBA's Mentor-Protégé program enhances the capability of 8(a) participants to compete more successfully for federal government contracts. The program encourages private-sector relationships and expands SBA’s efforts to identify and respond to the developmental needs of 8(a) clients.
This mentoring program is offered under SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program serving disadvantaged firms. SBA’s 8(a) program, named for a section of the Small Business Act, is a business development initiative that helps socially and economically disadvantaged Americans gain access to economic opportunity. The program provides an avenue for disadvantaged Americans to achieve entrepreneurial success and contribute to the strength and vigor of our economy.
As a small business owner, you can join the Mentor-Protégé Program as either the mentor or the protégé. The SBA Mentor-Protégé Program is designed to encourage approved mentors to provide various forms of assistance to eligible 8(a) participants as protégés. Below will highlight some of the benefits of the program.
The SBA's Mentor-Protégé Program is great way for both mentor and protégé to become more successful and grow as a small business.
Under SBA’s Mentor-Protégé program, protégés can gain the following benefits:
Technical and management assistance
The mentor’s expertise, resources, and capabilities are made available to the protégé.
Mentors can enter into joint-venture arrangements with protégés to compete for government contracts.
Financial assistance in the form of equity or loans
Mentors can own equity interest of up to 40% in a protégé firm to help it raise capital.
Qualification for other SBA programs
A protégé can obtain other forms of SBA assistance as the result of its good standing in the Mentor-Protégé program.
What are the requirements to become a protégé?
The protégé must meet the following requirements to participate in the program:
The business must be in the developmental stage of the 8(a) Business Development program
Have never received an 8(a) contract
Have a size of less than half the size standard for a small business based on its primary SIC code
It must be in good standing in the 8(a) Business Development program and be current with all reporting requirements
Protégés have only one mentor at a time.
What are the requirements to become a mentor?
The mentor can be a business that has graduated from the 8(a) Business Development program, a firm in the transitional stage of the program, or a small or large business. A mentor must have the capability to assist the protégé and must make a commitment for at least a year. In addition, it must demonstrate the following:
That it enjoys favorable financial health, including profitability for at least the last two years,
That it is a federal contractor in good standing, and
That it can provide valuable support to a protégé through lessons learned and practical experience gained from the 8(a) BD program, or through its general knowledge of government contracting.
Generally, a mentor will not have more than one protégé at a time without SBA authorization.
How does a firm enter the program?
Mentor and protégé firms enter into an SBA-approved written agreement outlining the protégé’s needs and describing the assistance the mentor has committed to providing. The protégé’s servicing district office evaluates the agreement according to the provisions contained in 13 CFR 124.520. SBA conducts annual reviews to determine the success of the mentor-protégé relationship.
Qualified 8(a) participants may apply to be considered as a protégé or mentor with the SBA District Office where it is registered. To apply for the program, contact your SBA District Office.
For additional information:
8(a) BD – Mentor-Protégé Program
US Small Business Administration
409 – Third Street, SW
Washington, DC 20416
Phone: (800) 827-5722
What if I do not qualify for the 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 development.
The SBA has offices located around the country. For the one nearest you, consult the telephone directory under U.S. Government; or 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.
In its annual business plan update, the protege must report to SBA for the protégé’s preceding program year:
All technical and/or management assistance provided by the mentor to the protégé;
All loans to and/or equity investments made by the mentor in the protégé:
All subcontracts awarded to the protégé by the mentor, and the value of each subcontract;
All federal contracts awarded to the mentor-protégé relationship as a joint venture (designating each as an 8(a), small business set aside, or unrestricted procurement), the value of each contract, and the percentage of the contract performed and the percentage of revenue accruing to each party in the joint venture; and
A narrative describing the success such assistance has had in addressing the developmental needs of the protégé and addressing any problems encountered.
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.
SBA will review the protégé’s report on the mentor-protégé relationship as part of its annual review of the firm's business plan pursuant to Sec. 124.403. SBA may decide not to approve continuation of 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.