8(a) – Certification:

The 8(a) Program is an essential instrument for helping socially and economically disadvantaged entrepreneurs gain access to the economic mainstream of American society. The program helps thousands of aspiring entrepreneurs to gain a foothold in government contracting.

Getting certified as an 8a, women owned business, minority business or small disadvantaged business can significantly help your company gain access to government contracts. It will limit your competition for business as an 8a contractor to other, similar companies and not necessarily the behemoths of the industry. There are numerous government agencies at the local, state or federal level which certify companies like yours. Whether you are just starting a business or your company is already established, you can drastically benefit from these 8a, mbe, wbe “set aside” contracts.


Participants can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing.

8(a) firms are also able to form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts.

The Mentor-Protégé Program helps 8(a) companies to learn the ropes from other experienced 8(a) businesses.


The Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities. These preferences go to small businesses that obtain HUBZone certification in part by employing staff who live in a HUBZone. The company must also maintain a “principal office” in one of these specially designated areas.

To qualify for the program, a business (except tribally-owned concerns) must meet the following criteria:

  • It must be a small business by SBA standards.

  • It must be owned and controlled at least 51% by U.S. citizens, or a Community Development Corporation, or an agricultural cooperative or an Indian tribe.

  • Its principal office must be located within a “Historically Underutilized Business Zone,” which includes lands considered “Indian Country” and military facilities closed by the Base Realignment and Closure Act. A principal office is the location where the greatest number of employees at any one location are performing work, with the exception of the construction and service industries.

  • At least 35% of its employees must reside in a HUBZone. Reside means to live in a primary residence at a place for at lease 180 days, or as a currently registered voter, and with intent to live there indefinitely.