8a Certification is the term used for communally or economically underprivileged businesses who have gone through the application procedure along with the General Services Administration (GSA) and been awarded a GSA schedule contract. Once 8a certified, the 8a Business is then competent to take benefit of any number of contracts which the federal government has mandated can only be fulfilled by 8a businesses. These commanded contracts are recognized as "Small Business Set Asides." More distinctively, "8a Small Business Set Asides."
The focus of the program is to provide business development support, such as mentoring, procurement assistance, business counseling, training, financial assistance, surety bonding and other management and technical assistance. The goal, however, is to prepare small disadvantaged firms for procurement and other business opportunities.
• Must be a small business
• Must be unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are of good character and citizens of the United States
• Must demonstrate potential for success
The process for getting 8a Certification can be tedious and drawn out if not done correctly from the beginning. One reason for this comes from the way the federal government works. Just like any other business, the federal government would rather deal with people who are familiar with the application process than with people they are going to have to baby sit every step of the way. This process could and should have been significantly quicker if they had retained someone more familiar with the provedures from the beginning.