Counseling and training
The U.S. Small Business Administration leverages its field offices, resource partners, and additional partnerships to help level the playing field for business owners and aspiring entrepreneurs who historically have lacked access to wealth or business opportunities.
SBA Resource partners
SBA works with independent organizations to provide high-quality counseling and training to meet the specific needs of new and existing small businesses. This resource partner network includes SCORE business mentors, Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), and Veterans Business Opportunity Centers (VBOCs). Several resource partner service centers are located at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) across America. SBA resource partners provide counseling and training to business owners at all stages.
T.H.R.I.V.E. Emerging Leaders Reimagined
T.H.R.I.V.E. Emerging Leaders Reimagined is an intensive executive-level series intended to accelerate the growth of high-potential small businesses in America’s underserved cities. The program provides customized training for C- level executives with demonstrated business sustainability. Participants create a three-year strategic growth action plan with benchmarks and performance targets to help them emerge as self-sustaining businesses, creating jobs and building communities.
The U.S. Department of Commerce operates the Minority Business Development Agency, which is dedicated to the growth and global competitiveness of business enterprises owned and operated by African Americans, Asian Americans, Hasidic Jews, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, and Pacific Islanders.
The federal government does not provide grants to start a business. However, there are several funding programs to help entrepreneurs start, expand, or recover from disasters.
You can learn more about funding options for small business, including those targeted at minority and underserved communities, and get connected with SBA-approved lenders. SBA also offers several special COVID-19 relief options.
SBA contracting certifications and business development programs
8(a) Business Development program
The 8(a) Business Development program helps socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses grow by limiting competition for certain contracts to participating businesses, allowing them to become solid competitors in the federal marketplace.
Disadvantaged businesses in the 8(a) program can:
- Compete for set-aside and sole-source contracts in the program
- Get a Business Opportunity Specialist to help navigate federal contracting
- Form joint ventures with established businesses through the SBA's Mentor-Protégé Program
- Receive management and technical assistance, including business training, counseling, marketing assistance, and high-level executive development
- Compete for contract awards under multiple socio-economic programs, as they apply
Before you can participate in the 8(a) Business Development program, you must meet certain criteria and be certified.
The government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses in historically underutilized business zones. The program aims to award at least three percent of federal contract dollars each year to HUBZone-certified companies.
SBA Mentor-Protégé Program
The SBA Mentor-Protégé Program enables eligible small businesses (protégés) to get valuable business development help and win government contracts through partnerships with more experienced companies (mentors).
Additional government contracting programs
SBA offers several additional government contracting certifications and programs.
SBA’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Civil Rights
All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis. You may contact SBA’s Office of Diversity, Inclusion, and Civil Rights for additional information.