Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, but many don’t tap into the immense potential offered by federal contracts. Further, small businesses owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals have historically received unequitable access to contracting opportunities in the federal marketplace. The good news is, Gallium Solutions is launching a new service to help Small Business Concerns (SBCs) navigate the intricate, lengthy 8(a) application process and maximize their federal market access. Our goal is to match innovative American businesses with the right government needs to meet what we call a “product-mission-fit.” Part of our purpose-driven culture is advocating for small, disadvantaged businesses to have a fair shot accessing the federal marketplace.

What is 8(a) Certification?

The 8(a) Business Development program was established by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), authorized by Sections 7(j)(10) and 8(a) of the Small Business Act (15 U.S.C. §§636(j)(10) and 637(a)). The goal of this program is to assign at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars to small, disadvantaged businesses every year. To qualify, businesses must be owned and controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals, among other limitations. Those individuals must themselves meet several requirements, including asset and income limitations. The program offers training, technical assistance, and procurement assistance to strengthen these businesses and equip them to compete effectively in the American economy.

Why Should a Small Business Seek 8(a) Certification?

8(a) certification is a powerful tool for SBC owners who want to expand their presence in the federal marketplace. The 8(a) certification doesn't guarantee contract awards, but it paves the way to compete more efficiently and access unique business development assistance.

Benefits of 8(a)Certification

Businesses with 8(a) certification enjoy a host of benefits. These include:

®   The ability to compete for set-aside and sole-source contracts.

®   Dedicated business development assistance from Business Opportunity Specialists for the program's nine-year term.

®   Opportunity to participate in the SBA Mentor-Protégé program.

®   Access to procurement and compliance experts.

®   Eligibility to receive federal surplus property on apriority basis.

®   Free training from SBA’s 7(j) Management and Technical Assistance program.

The certification also allows SBCs to pursue joint ventures with established businesses to increase their capacity.

Eligibility for 8(a)Certification

To be considered for the 8(a)program, businesses must meet the following eligibility criteria:

®   Be a small business.

®   Have not previously participated in the 8(a) program.

®   Be at least 51% owned and controlled by U.S. citizens who are socially and economically disadvantaged.

®   Have a personal net worth of $850 thousand or less, adjusted gross income of $400 thousand or less, and assets totaling $6.5million or less.

®   Demonstrate good character.

®   Show the potential for success, such as having been in business for two years.

We’ve created a preliminary survey to determine your eligibility.

How Gallium Solutions Can Assist You

Navigating the 8(a) certification process is deceptively complex. The application itself seems simple – just upload some documents and you’re done. The SBA even makes application assistance available for free via its Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC). In our experience, most businesses have a number of factors that significantly complicate the process and initiate additional steps in the process- beyond what an uninitiated business owner can accomplish, even with PTAC assistance.  

Program eligibility is a complicated matter. Many of the factors the SBA evaluates aren’t able to be defined precisely.  With 5% of the Federal acquisitions budget (plus a good portion of state and local funding) on the line, many people would like to be a part of this program. Between a large interest in the program and ambiguous eligibility criteria, you can imagine how many fraudulent or ineligible applications the SBA receives.  

In even the most clear-cut cases, chances are there’s something in your documentation that calls into question your eligibility. In our experience, this is where the PTACs tend to fall down.  We find they particularly struggle with understanding complexities that arise within the interplay across early-stage technology companies’ cap tables, promissory notes, option agreements, etc.  

You should also expect the SBA to kick your application back at least 3 times. It sometimes almost seems as if SBA evaluators are testing your dedication and responsiveness. Each time, you’ll be expected to not only answer the SBA’s information requests, but also update your package in its entirety.  

Quite often, the request will be that you explain an issue through additional documentation detailing a particular issue more precisely. That typically involves developing a report, which means understanding the context behind what the SBA is asking and then crafting a report format that communicates the status clearly and efficiently. Again, these are things many PTACs aren’t equipped to handle well, or at least not to our standard.

At Gallium Solutions, we are dedicated to smoothing your path towards certification. Our team of experienced professionals will guide you through each step of the application process, from identifying your primary NAICS code(s) and registering your business in the System for Award Management (SAM), and through the application for 8(a)certification itself. The application package comprises hundreds of documents which need to be accurately filled out, titled, and uploaded. Once submitted for review, the SBA may request additional or amended documentation on a strict timeline. We’ll help you determine the relevant documents to submit in your package, ensure they are filled completely and accurately to minimize or eliminate go-backs, and continuously monitor communications.

Gallium Solutions is excited to offer this new service. We are extending an early access rate to a limited number of businesses as we streamline the processes of this new service. We believe in the power of small businesses and are committed to providing there sources and guidance you need to secure 8(a) certification and open the doors to new opportunities. Ready to embark on this journey? Contact us today to learn how we can help your business thrive.

Here’s What Our Clients Are Saying

"I tried to apply for 8(a) certification myself, but it was a cumbersome and time-consuming process. Gallium Solutions did an exceptional job in simplifying the entire application journey. Their knowledgeable team provided expert guidance, thorough explanations, and personalized support, which made it a remarkably streamlined experience. It saved me an immense amount of time and relieved me of the stress associated with navigating the complexities of the application process on my own. Choosing Gallium Solutions was truly worth it!"

-         Gustavo Sanchez, Co-Founder of Pandata Tech