The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program is the crème de la crème of federal government contracting and there is a high bar to entry for admission. Among other things, individuals that are not a member of one of the recognized groups that is automatically presumed to be socially disadvantaged must prove they were socially disadvantaged throughout their life through what is called a social disadvantage narrative. Beyond that, there are a number of other qualifications, such as being economically disadvantaged, a business’s potential for success, and evidence of good character that must also be met. 13 C.F.R. § 124.101. The process is difficult, and once an individual is admitted, they no doubt want to make the most of it.
Oftentimes, small businesses that participate in the 8(a) SBA’s Business Development Program remain in the Program for the full 9 years that the SBA allows, which culminates in the small business “graduating” from the program. 13 C.F.R. § 124.302. Sometimes, the business grows so successfully that it no longer meets the qualifications of being small, and thus is required to graduate early from the 8(a) Program. So how exactly does that happen? Read on to find out.
In a recent post, we discussed the basics of SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, including general information, benefits, program terms, and how to apply. This follow-up post focuses on the basics of SBA’s 8(a) eligibility requirements, discussing those in greater detail.
SBA guidance on Certify.SBA.Gov suggests that an 8(a) Program applicant’s social disadvantage narrative should be “three pages or less.” While we are definitely in the habit of recommending small business contractors to follow SBA’s guidance most of the time, we simply cannot climb aboard the “three-page” ship. In fact, we have significant concerns that submitting a one to three page narrative could potential “sink” your 8(a) application (at a minimum, requiring you to make extensive and time-consuming revisions later on).
You put your heart into submitting your 8(a) Business Development Program application, but you still got denied. All is not lost! Join me as I discuss how to request reconsideration or appeal 8(a) denials.
One of the trickiest requirements for admission into the SBA’s 8(a) program is demonstrating social disadvantage. While some groups are presumed socially disadvantaged (as discussed here), social disadvantage can also be demonstrated based on other characteristics not specifically included in the SBA’s regulations. For those characteristics, applicants must submit a “social disadvantage narrative.”
In this video, I provide you the tricks of the trade you’ll need to write a successful narrative:
For assistance drafting your social disadvantage narrative, reach out to us here!
Writing a social disadvantage narrative for application to SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program can be tricky. While SBA’s regulations can guide your pen, they are not the only source of helpful information out there.
Let’s take a look at some SBA guidance and recommendations based on SBA’s actual decisions that may increase your chances for success.
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.