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.
The template provides six categories of assistance that the mentor may provide the protege: (1) Management and Technical Assistance; (2) Financial Assistance; (3) Contracting; (4) Trade Education; (5) Business Development; and (6) General Administrative. The protege may select “any or all that apply to your situation.”
Once the appropriate assistance is identified, the protege must then specify its needs within each selected area, what the mentor will do to support those needs, the timeline for meeting the needs, and how to measure whether each of the needs have been successfully met “in accordance with your business plan . . ..” The SBA’s accompanying instructions confirm that the protege must have a written business plan–and that the business plan must be submitted to the SBA as part of the mentor-protege application.
The template requires the protege to identify any other federal mentor-protege programs in which it is currently participating, and sets forth a variety of other standard terms, such as those involving reports to the SBA, termination of the mentor-protege agreement, and so on. The template mentor-protege agreement also includes a provision in which the mentor acknowledges that it may be penalized if it fails to provide the promised assistance.
The sample template agreement has been posted on the SBA’s all small mentor-protege program website, but two other documents–the application form itself, and the instructions for applying, have been made available only to those who requested them. (A contact sent me both documents, which I’ve linked in this paragraph, but those interested in applying should not rely on my copies of the documents, which could become outdated at any time. Instead, visit the SBA’s website for up-to-date instructions on applying.)
The application is largely straightforward, and repeats much of the substance of the mentor-protege template agreement, including the types of assistance sought. The application, and the SBA’s online guidance, specify that prospective mentors and proteges will be required to complete an online training module as part of the application process. However, “this requirement will be waived for October applications only, and until November 1.” Those applying on or after November 1 will have to provide proof of completion of the online training module.
In October, the SBA will accept emailed electronic applications. But those who apply in October will have to “finalize the administrative process” in November by creating a profile on certify.sba.gov and uploading the application documents to that website. Beginning in November, it appears that all applications will be submitted using the certify.sba.gov website.
The SBA’s all small mentor-protege program is now “live.” For contractors who hope to take advantage of this powerful new program, it may be time to get started.