8(a) Minority Owned Business Federal Contracting Program
Businesses that are certified as minority -owned can take advantage of special government programs, including increased access to government contracting opportunities that can help them grow their business quicker.
Applicants must meet the following criteria for certification:
- Business must be 51 % or greater owned by an Economically Disadvantaged Individual
Economically Disadvantage: An Individual who is socially disadvantaged, and has not been given fair opportunity to receive proper funding through capital and/or credit.
- Business must be 51% or greater owned by a Socially Disadvantaged Individual
Social Disadvantaged Individual: Individual ethnicity being African-American, Hispanic- American, Asian Pacific American, Native-American, Subcontinent American, or with a documented disability that creates Social Disadvantage.
- Adjusted Net worth $250,000.00 or less
- Personal Income Average over the last 3 year period: $250,000.00 or less
- Total Personal assets: Less than $4 Million Dollars
- Must be considered a Small Business by SBA standards. This is determined by your NAICS codes
- Must Be U.S. Citizen Must Be in Business for Minimum of 2 years
The Certification Process
The certification process can take up to 90 days and applicants should be prepared to submit numerous business documents. Once certified as a minority-owned business, the minority business executives have access to program benefits, among which are opportunities to grow their businesses by gaining private and government contracts through inclusion in (and access to) supplier databases, regional leads and alerts for procurement opportunities from corporate members.
*Individuals are presumed to be socially disadvantaged if they hold themselves to be a member of a presumed group or are currently identified by others as a member of a presumed group, which include:
- Black American
- Hispanic American
- Native American
- Asian Pacific American
- Subcontinent Asian American
Other individuals may be found socially disadvantaged and therefore eligible for the program on a case by case basis.
*Economically disadvantage eligibility is only determined after social disadvantage has been determined. For purposes of program eligibility, economically disadvantaged individuals are “socially disadvantaged individuals whose ability to compete in the free enterprise system has been impaired due to diminished capital and credit opportunities.” An individual seeking an economically disadvantaged designation must provide the following to the SBA for consideration:
- Narrative statement of economic disadvantage
- Personal financial information including tax returns and specific SBA forms; including separate financial information pertaining to a spouse when the applying individual is married
Additional Eligibility Requirements
Assuming that an individual applying for an 8(a) certification is a member of a presumed socially disadvantaged group and has met the requirements for economically disadvantaged designation, they must also:
- Be a business that demonstrates potential for success
- Have leaders that show good character
- Meet separate eligibility requirements if they are businesses owned by American Indians, Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians or Certified Development Companies
The Benefits of Being a Minority-Owned Business with Certification
From federal and government agencies to private corporations, there are many organizations that want to do business with minority-owned businesses and would even prefer to do so. Certifications may provide your business with opportunities it might not otherwise be able to compete for.
Many federal government agencies are even mandated to reward a substantial number of contracts to certified minority-owned businesses. For example, the U.S. Department of Transportation requires that at least 10 percent of the money spent on contracts for certain projects go to businesses that are minority-owned, and entities (such as state transportation agencies) that receive DOT funding are required to develop Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) programs to ensure compliance.
Government agencies are not the only organizations that want to award work to minority-owned businesses. The corporations that work with members of the NMSDC include such illustrious brands as IBM, Microsoft, Marriott and many others.
- Your organization will receive a government assigned contact to mentor you through the entire 9-year 8 (a) business development program
- Your organization will receive access to set a side government procurement that you previously could not access, and could not bid on
- Your organization will have access to Business counseling services from your assigned government 8 (a) certification officer
- Your organization will have access to 8 (a) training that will increase your awareness of the different set aside procurements, and avenues to maximize your revenue through the use of your new 8 (a) BD certification
- Your organization will now be eligible for financial assistance in the form of low interest loans, grants, and other fiduciary benefits that only 8 (a) certification holders have access to
- If your organization requires Bonding (construction and labor companies usually) you receive secure and guaranteed Surety Bonding through your new 8 (a) certification through SBA
Leveraging Certification to attain Government Contracts
Any business, including minority-owned businesses, must register with applicable federal and state programs through which contracts are advertised and awarded. Minority ownership may or may not be a factor in individual contract specifications; however, some contracts may even be exclusively set aside and awardable only to minority-owned businesses. Minority-owned businesses that want to compete for federal contracts must first register with SAM (System for Award Management). Each contract will have its own specific supplier or vendor requirements.