SBA (8a) is an ownership/diversity certification sponsored by the Small Business Association (SBA) of the United States government. The 8(a) program is a nine-year business development program that provides business training, counseling, marketing and technical assistance to small businesses that have been certified. The first four years of the program are the developmental stage and the last five years are the transition stage. The goal of the program is to have 8(a) firms graduate’ to go on and thrive in a competitive business environment.
This certification is intended for organizations that are owned and controlled at least 51% by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. SBA considers African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Pacific American, Native Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans to be socially and economically disadvantaged. An individual who does not belong to any of the aforementioned groups can otherwise be admitted to the program if able to show they are disadvantaged due to race, ethnic origin, gender, physical handicap, long-term residence in an environment isolated from the mainstream of American society; or other similar cause.
Certification to the SBA 8(a) program requires the submission of an application, either electronically or paper-based. SBA advises reviewing the online training tools available on their site prior to submitting the application.