SBA 8A: Overview, Certification, Application, Programs, Checklist


You may be familiar with the 8(a) Firm Development Program if you own a small business that competes for government contracts. The federal government is behind it, and it aims to level the playing field for eligible disadvantaged small enterprises.

The Small Business Administration’s 8A( SBA 8A) Business Development program provides a one-of-a-kind and important opportunity for small enterprises in the United States. Reduced competition for government contracts, as well as access to sole-source contracts and inclusion among the program’s advantages.

If your small business qualifies, the SBA 8(a) program can help you increase sales and expand your market. Continue reading to learn more about all you need to know concerning SBA 8A.

SBA 8a Program

The Small Business Association (SBA) of the United States government sponsors the SBA (8a) ownership/diversity certification. The 8(a) program is a nine-year company development program that provides registered small enterprises with business training, counseling, marketing, and technical assistance.

The developmental stage lasts for the first four years of the program, while the transition stage lasts for the final five. The program’s purpose is to graduate 8(a) enterprises that will be able to compete in the marketplace. This accreditation is for businesses that are owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged people in at least 51 percent of their ownership and control.

Individuals who do not belong to any of the aforementioned groups may be admitted to the program if they can demonstrate that they are disadvantaged.

SBA 8a Certify

You must be certified before you can participate in the 8(a) Business Development program. Use the website to apply for the 8(a) Business Development program. Before you may utilize the certification website, you must first create an account at

Depending on your business structure and whether you’ve already participated in other SBA programs, the information you’ll need to supply will differ. Before you apply, please review the Certify Knowledge Base for advice and useful resources about SBA 8A.

If your application is approved, you will be notified. If you’re accepted into the program, your approval date and program exit date will be displayed in your Dynamic Small Business Search profile.
Your certification will be valid for nine years at the most. To keep your good status in the program, you’ll need to complete annual reviews.

What Is the SBA 8(a) Business Development Program?

The Small Business Administration’s (SBA) 8(a) Business Development program aims to help socially and economically challenged small business owners acquire federal contracts. Business owners with particular racial, ethnic, gender, and military-service histories are eligible.

The 8(a) program is distinct from other SBA loan programs that aim to assist small firms in obtaining money for their existing objectives. Instead, the SBA’s purpose is to foster the development of “firms that will prosper in a competitive business climate.”
In other words, the SBA wants to ensure that firms succeed even after they leave the program.

SBA 8(a) Program Overview

The developmental part of the program lasts four years, while the transition stage lasts five years. The program’s purpose is for 8(a) enterprises to graduate and prosper in a competitive business environment. Before applying, the SBA recommends reviewing the online training tools accessible on their website.

Before we get into how the SBA 8(a) program can help participating firms, it’s crucial to understand what the program means by “socially disadvantaged” and “economically disadvantaged” business owners and corporations.

Socially disadvantaged:

However, Individuals who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias in American culture because of their identification as members of groups, rather than their individual traits, are considered socially disadvantaged. Circumstances outside their control must be the source of their social inferiority.

Economically disadvantaged:

Economically disadvantaged people are socially disadvantaged people whose capacity to compete in the free market has been hampered by a lack of money and credit options. In terms of numbers, these rules specify that “for initial 8(a) BD eligibility, an individual claiming disadvantage must be less than $250,000.

Steps to Applying for the 8(a) Business Development Program

The 8(a) Business Development Program provides a wealth of resources to small firms that participate. You may find out if your company is qualified for the program and how to obtain certification by following these steps.

Here are steps to applying for the 8(a) business development program:

Check Eligibility

The SBA 8A has prepared a list of characteristics that applicants must meet to be eligible for the program.

Meet the Two-Year Rule

The SBA looks at how long you’ve been in business to determine your chances of success. Because many firms fail in their first two years. The SBA requires that enterprises be operating for at least two years to be eligible for the program.

You’ll need to obtain a waiver if you just have one year of business tax returns.

Gather More Information

The SBA will then require you to complete an online training and self-assessment course. This enables them to assess if you are qualified to apply for the 8(a) Program.

Apply to Get Certified

Although a paper application is acceptable, the SBA advises that you submit an electronic application to speed up the process.

 Create a Business Plan

You’ll need to submit a business plan once you’ve been certified. Before you may get program benefits, you must have this plan approved by an SBA Business Opportunity Specialist (BOS).

SBA 8a Application

It’s straightforward to apply for SBA 8(a) certification. To begin, create a free business profile on the General Services Administration’s Systems for Award Management (SAM) website. After you’ve set up your account, you’ll need to register to do business with the US government. To finish this form, you’ll need your Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number, your employment identity number (EIN), and your NAICS code.SBA 8a Checklist

There’s more, though, even before you apply for the certification. The checklists to complete before applying for certification are shown below:

  • All applicants must be citizens of the United States.
  • The applicant(s) must devote 100% of their time to the company.
  • The principal or main applicant must hold a position at the company’s highest level. The CEO, President, or Managing Director
  • The company’s primary owner must demonstrate that he or she is the highest compensated employee in the company requesting the 8a certification
  • A narrative statement comprising all of the material should be used to explain the social and economic disadvantages of the 8a certification.

How to find 8(a) program contractors

You can use the SBA’s Dynamic Small Business Search to identify 8(a) program-certified enterprises as part of your market research (DSBS).

You can also do the following:

The SBA’s local district offices can provide you with one-on-one help.
Contact the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization or the Agency Small Business Specialist at your agency.
8(a) micro-enterprises use the GSA Schedule program to locate qualified disadvantaged individuals. 8(a) micro-enterprises.

Only ask for the facts you need to make the set-aside decision, and put a page restriction on responses to make it easier for interested businesses to respond. To confirm a company’s 8(a) eligibility, contact your local district office.


The Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program assists small businesses owned, controlled, and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged people by providing management, technical, financial, and federal contracting assistance with the goal of assisting these entrepreneurs in creating viable businesses.

READ ALSO: SBA 504 LOAN: Definition, Rates, Calculator, Programs

FAQ’s about SBA 8A

What does 8 a certified mean?

The 8(a) Business Development Program is a small disadvantaged business aid program. The 8(a) Program provides a wide range of benefits to businesses that are at least 51 percent owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged people.

How long is the SBA 8a program?

It can take a company up to 45 days to get certified although it can take up some 90 days 

How do I become SBA certified?

Either self-certification or third-party certification is required. Create a profile at and apply through the website. The accreditation for Women-Owned Businesses is valid for one year. You can update your certification information in the same way that you submit an application.

What is small business 8a?

A small business that has been admitted into the 8(a) Business Development Program and is owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged persons is known as an 8(a) firm.

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