The United States government has a number of programs that can help small businesses that may otherwise have a hard time competing in today’s economy. Read on to see if you qualify for any of these programs offered through the Small Business Administration.

SBA Mentor-Protégé Program

The SBA Mentor-Protégé program allows small business owners to learn from experienced government contractors. The program provides business development help in a variety of areas, including: internal business management systems, accounting, marketing, manufacturing, and strategic planning. Mentors can provide help in acquiring financial assistance via equity investments, loans, and bonding. They may also help businesses navigate federal contract bidding, acquisition, and the federal procurement process.

To qualify for the program, you must be a small business with industry experience, be organized for profit or as an agricultural cooperative, and have a proposed mentor prior to applying for the program. For more information, including how to apply, go here.

8(a) Business Development Program

The 8(a) Business Development program from the SBA is geared toward helping businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Those in the program can receive training and technical assistance to better compete in the current economy.

Companies may receive set-aside and sole-source contracts and one-on-one business development assistance. They can also pursue mentorship opportunities through the Mentor-Protégé program and connect with procurement and compliance experts. The program may also help these businesses pursue joint ventures and qualify to receive federal surplus property on a priority basis. For more info on the program and on how to apply, go here.

HUBZone Program

The SBA's HUBZone program helps small businesses in underutilized business zones grow. It aims to award at least 3 percent of federal contract dollars to companies in these areas each year. It limits competition for certain contracts to businesses in these zones and gives them preferential consideration. By joining this program, your business is eligible to compete for its set-aside contracts. Certified businesses also get a 10 percent price evaluation preference in full and open contract competitions.

To qualify, your business must be considered a small business, and be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by U.S. citizens, a Community Development Corporation, an agricultural cooperative, an Alaska Native corporation, a Native Hawaiian organization, or an Indian tribe. It must also have a principal office located in and at least 35 percent of employees living in a HUBZone. For more information on the program, including how to apply, go here.

Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program

The SBA's Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program aims to award at least 5 percent of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses each year. It strives to help provide a level playing field for women business owners. To do so, it limits competition for certain contracts to those who participate in the program. These contracts are in specific industries where women-owned businesses are underrepresented. Some of the contracts are limited specifically to economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses.

To qualify for the program overall, your business must be considered a small business and be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens. Additionally, women must manage day-to-day operations and make long-term decisions. Go here to learn more about the program, including how to apply.

Veteran Assistance Programs

The SBA's veteran assistance programs help veteran-owned small businesses access federal contract awards and surplus personal property. Each year, the government awards a portion of contracting dollars specifically to businesses owned by veterans. Businesses can compete for set-aside contracts at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA). The VA also sets aside contracting opportunities for businesses owned by veterans who are service-disabled.

To be eligible, you must be formally verified as a Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (VOSB) or Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB). Learn more about veteran assistance programs here.

If you belong to one of the groups that can benefit from these programs, don't hesitate to visit the SBA's website and learn more about how the federal government can help you be better positioned in your market.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank. Nevada State Bank is a division of Zions Bancorporation, N.A. Member FDIC