SBA Denies 8(a) Status Based on Applicant’s Ability to Successfully Overcome Gender-Based Discrimination in Her Field

OHA recently affirmed the 8(a) status denial of a 100% woman-owned small business performing in the historically male-dominated renewable energy field. The applicant—who SBA called an “advocate” and “mentor” to women in the industry—detailed specific instances of gender-based-discrimination that plagued her education, employment, and career. But SBA was unmoved, instead focusing its analysis on the applicant’s triumph over these obstacles—apparently an indication that she was not socially disadvantaged in the first place. Unfortunately, this perplexing holding does fall in line with many past SBA denials of women-owned companies for 8(a) status.

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SBA Poised to Increase 8(a) Income and Net Worth Eligibility Standards

We recently discussed at length the SBA’s proposed rule to get rid of WOSB self-certification and revise some of the other WOSB certification rules. Well, it seems like SBA is crossing a lot of things off its to-do list, because in that same proposed rule, SBA also proposes to “to make the economic disadvantage requirements for the 8(a) BD program consistent to the economic disadvantage requirements for women-owned firms seeking EDWOSB status” and to “eliminate the distinction in the 8(a) BD program for initial entry into and continued eligibility for the program.”

If the rule is approved, the dollar amounts for initial 8(a) economic disadvantage eligibility would increase quite a bit, making more people economically eligible. Read on for the details on this proposed change.

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Why Does the 8(a) Program Penalize Older Business Owners?

The 8(a) Program can offer incredible opportunities: sole source contracts, set-aside competitions, mentor-protege relationships, SBA business training and much more.

But for business owners older than 59 1/2, getting admitted to the 8(a) Program can be very difficult: unlike their younger counterparts, funds these owners have saved in traditional retirement accounts will likely count against the 8(a) Program’s $250,000 adjusted net worth cap.

How is this fair? (Spoiler alert: in my opinion, it ain’t).

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SBA OIG Recommends Improved Oversight of 8(a) Continuing Eligibility

Last year, we wrote about the SBA’s Office of Inspector General’s concerns with the SBA’s review of potential 8(a) participants’ eligibility. In this report, the OIG made three recommendations aimed at improving to verify applicants’ eligibility.

Just last week, the OIG released a new report analyzing the 8(a) Program. This report picks up where the earlier report left off—it addressed several issues in the SBA’s evaluation of participants’ continuing eligibility.

The results of this report are rather alarming: based on its review, the OIG identified almost $127 million in 8(a) set-aside awards to ineligible firms.

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5 Things You Should Know: 8(a) Program Eligibility

In a recent post, I discussed the basics about SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program. This follow-up posts discusses 8(a) eligibility requirements in greater detail.

To qualify for the 8(a) Program, a firm must be a small business that is unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially- and economically-disadvantaged individuals who are of good character and citizens of the United States and that demonstrates a potential for success.

What does this really mean? Here are five things you should know about 8(a) Program eligibility.

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5 Things You Should Know: SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program (The Basics)

If you’re a small business owner interested in government contracts, you’ve probably heard about the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program. The 8(a) Program itself is complex, but its potential benefits are tremendous. In this post, I’ll break down some of the very basics about the 8(a) Program, leaving some of its complexities for upcoming posts.

Let’s get to it: here are five things you should know about the 8(a) Program.

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8(a) Program: Loan Must Be “Bona Fide” To Reduce Net Worth

To qualify for the 8(a) program, a disadvantaged individual must fall below certain personal net worth thresholds. Loans can reduce net worth–but not all loans are treated the same.

According to the SBA Office of Hearings and Appeals, if a disadvantaged individual intends to rely on a loan to reduce net worth, the loan better be bona fide.

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