The SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protégé program offers a tremendous opportunity for participants to pursue set-aside contracts as joint venture partners. But misunderstandings and misconceptions about how SBA mentor-protégé joint ventures work are pervasive.
One very common misconception is that the SBA must pre-approve a mentor-protégé joint venture. In most cases, that’s not so. In a recent bid protest decision, even the GAO appeared a little confused, repeatedly mentioning SBA approval of a joint venture even though no such approval was required for the contract in question.
A small business “can have no more than two [SBA] mentors over the life of the business,” according to the SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protege Program website.
The SBA’s clarification of the lifetime limit provides important guidance for proteges, especially because the SBA’s mentor-protege regulations aren’t exactly crystal clear when it comes to this point. The SBA’s limit ensures that small businesses don’t become permanent proteges–but is “two per lifetime” the best way to carry out that policy?
In late 2016, the SBA rolled out a fantastic tool to help small business grow in the marketplace.
Here are five things you should know about the SBA All Small Mentor-Protégé Program:
The SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protege Program office has issued its annual evaluation forms for ASMPP participants. The purpose of the reports is to “determine whether the business is eligible to continue to participate in the All Small Business Mentor-Protege Program.”
The annual evaluation process requires participants to complete two forms: a nine-page protege evaluation report, and a separate five-page mentor evaluation addendum.
The GAO estimates that 27 percent of DoD mentor-protege agreements are deficient.
In a comprehensive new report, the GAO says that many active DoD mentor-protege agreements are missing basic (and necessary) information, like the protege’s primary NAICS code. Also missing, in some cases: the parties’ signatures.
The SBA has published a list of active All Small mentor-protege agreements. The list, which is available on the SBA’s website, is dated April 5, 2017. It’s not clear how often the SBA intends to update the list.
The April 5 list reveals that there are approximately 90 active All Small mentor-protege agreements, covering a wide variety of primary industry classifications. All major socioeconomic categories (small business, 8(a), SDVOSB, HUBZone, EDWOSB and WOSB) are represented.
There’s no reason why mentor-protege pairings should be a secret. Kudos to the SBA for publishing the list, which will be useful to contracting officers and industry alike (as well as those of us who are simply curious by nature).
The SBA has released a sample template mentor-protege agreement, and accompanying application information, for its new “all small” mentor-protege program.
The template calls for the parties to select from up to six categories of assistance that the mentor may provide, and requires the parties to set forth specific details about the nature of the planned assistance, the timeline for providing it, and milestones for measuring success. The application form, in turn, requires the protege to have a written business plan, and will require mentors and proteges to complete an online training module if they apply after November 1, 2016.