Frequently asked questions about the Native 8(a) program
The SBA's 8(a) BD Program, named for a section of the Small Business Act, is a business development program created to help small disadvantaged businesses compete in the American economy and access the federal procurement market. The program provides eligible firms with greater access to the resources they need to grow and develop their businesses. This, in turn, improves their ability to compete on an equal footing with other firms in the mainstream American economy. (Visit SBA's 8(a) Business Development Program website).
ANCs and Tribal 8(a)s represent thousands of members and Tribal owners. A small regional ANC or Tribe may have 4,000 owners. In order to distribute a dividend and provide other benefits of any consequence, ANCs and Tribes must generate much larger financial numbers than individually owned firms.
Past performance is critical to doing business with federal agencies. Contracting officers consider past performance before entering into a contract with a company. The 8(a) program is designed to help 8(a) businesses build a record of past performance and build the business capacity to succeed beyond the 8(a) program. It encourages federal agencies to contract with 8(a) companies and form mentor/protégé relationships with other companies.
Tribal members, Native Hawaiians and Alaska Native shareholders benefit through their respective Tribe, ANC or Native Hawaiian organization, which own an 8(a) company. Profits from 8(a) companies are in the form of dividends, social and cultural programs, scholarships and internships, elders’ trust funds and other benefits that are tailored to their communities’ needs.
An important distinction between Native enterprises and their counterparts in the 8(a) program is that Native enterprise profits flow directly to tribal members, Alaska Native shareholders and Native Hawaiians who are socially and economically disadvantaged. Non-Native owned businesses generally represent one individual or one family while tribes and ANCs typically represent thousands. The 8(a) program for Native Enterprises is working exactly as Congress intended – a way to help disadvantaged Native peoples improve their lives through developing selfsustaining companies that positively impact Native communities.