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PRIME Awardee Selection Process

Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME)

SBA’s Program for Investment in Microentrepreneurs (PRIME) provides assistance to organizations that help low-income entrepreneurs who lack sufficient training and education to gain access to capital to establish and expand their small businesses. 

The PRIME Act authorizes SBA to establish a program for the purposes of: (Track 1) providing training and technical assistance to disadvantaged entrepreneurs; (Track 2) providing training and capacity building assistance to microenterprise development organizations (MDOs) and programs; (Track 3) researching and developing best practices in the field of microenterprise development and technical assistance programs for disadvantaged entrepreneurs; and (Track 4) conducting other such activities that the Administrator determines to be consistent with the purposes of the Act.

Selection Process

Step 1: Solicitation of Grant Applications.  SBA posted a Program Announcement on Grants.gov.  After closing of the Program Announcement, all grant applications submitted on a timely basis were forwarded to the Office of Economic Opportunity (OEO) for review. OEO verified applicant eligibility. 

Step 2: Application Review & Scoring. Each eligible application was independently scored by a minimum of two reviewers. The reviewers were selected from a pool of experienced staff in OEO and SBA’s Office of Field Operations.  Individual scores that differed by more than 20 points (115 maximum points) were scored by a third reviewer. Applications were scored based on established criteria in the areas of Organizational Experience & Capacity, Project Design, Project Management, and Collaboration & Leveraging of Resources.

Step 3: Ranking.  Every eligible application was ranked by average score within its applied Track (e.g.  Track 1 applications compete only against other Track 1 applications for funding). Awardees were then selected based on score and available funding.  

Program regulations require that SBA allocate the funding available for awards as follows:

  • A minimum of 75 percent for Technical Assistance Grants;
  • A minimum of 15 percent for Capacity Building Grants; and
  • The remaining 10 percent or less may be allocated by SBA, in its sole discretion to be used for Research and Development Grants or Discretionary Grants.

Discretionary Grants.  In collaboration with SBA’s Office of Economic Opportunity, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet selected awardees of discretionary grants based on those organizations’ unique alignment with key strategic objectives of the Agency.