Get A Piece Of The Government Business Pie

Previously, I wrote about various ways to leverage the US Small Business Administration and its many services and funding options. In this third and final article about the SBA, I want to focus on the programs that are in place for minorities.

On its Web site, the SBA states that, “The SBA is a strong advocate of minority and special audiences. Whether you’re looking for information on programs and services in support of women entrepreneurs, veteran’s business development, Native Americans, special minority programs including HUBZone, Small Disadvantaged Business Certification and 8(a) business development, you’ll find it here. Additionally, we’ve devoted an entire site to young entrepreneurs—the future of America’s small businesses and international trade.” On the SBA’s Web site, found at www.sba. gov there is a great deal of detailed information that you can drill down on each of the areas listed above.

To give you a better feel for how the SBA looks at each category let’s take a look at the key points.

In regard to women, the SBA says that it is their mission, through the Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO, to “assist women achieve their dreams and improve their communities by helping them start and run successful businesses, regardless of social or financial disadvantage, race, ethnicity or business background. OWBO and the Women’s Business Center Program are integral components of Entrepreneurial Development’s network of training and counseling services.”

The SBA lists the mission of the Office of Veterans Business Development to be to “maximize the availability, applicability and usability of all administration small business programs for Veterans, Service-Disabled Veterans, Reserve Component Members and their Dependents or Survivors.”

The SBA has a key loan program for Veterans called the Patriot Express Pilot Loan Initiative.

Eligible military community members include: Veterans, Service-disabled veterans, active-duty service members eligible for the military’s Transition Assistance Program, Reservists and National Guard members, current spouses of any of the above and the widowed spouse of a service member or veteran who died during service or of a service-connected disability.

Native Americans
The SBA lists their mission through the Office of Native American Affairs to be to “ensure that American Indians, Native Alaskans and Native Hawaiians seeking to create, develop and expand small businesses have full access to the necessary business development and expansion tools available through the Agency’s entrepreneurial development, lending and procurement programs.”

50+ Entrepreneurs
According to the SBA’s Web site, “For many Americans born between 1946 and 1964, retirement has a very different meaning than it did a generation ago. According to a recent USA Today/Gallup poll, 63 percent of non-retired adults in the United States plan to work in retirement; two-thirds say enjoyment of work is the key reason.

And why not? With years of valuable work experience, maturity, and plenty of energy, today’s older workers are increasingly finding financial and personal fulfillment in running their own small businesses.

Indeed, there are as many reasons for starting a small business as there are Americans reaching retirement age: corporate layoffs, the need to supplement income, a desire for a more flexible lifestyle, advanced technology that is leveling the playing field for small businesses, the chance to realize a personal ambition to be the boss and reap the rewards.

Sound like you? The U.S. SBA and its Resource Partners can help you navigate your personal journey to success.”

So, regardless of who you are, there are SBA programs and SBA resources to help you and your entrepreneurial endeavors. There are programs that you can find both federally and in your state. Tied to the SBA’s minority initiatives is the SBA Small and Disadvantaged Business Certification and its 8A Business Development programs. The 8A program provides access to government set-aside contracts, targeted toward minority and woman-owned companies. In addition, the Small Disadvantaged Business Certification provides a price credit of up to 10 percent when you bid on a federal contract. Included in the list of 8A program eligible groups are: Black Americans, including anyone having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa; Hispanic Americans, which includes anyone of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Dominican, Central or South American or other Spanish, or Portuguese culture, regardless of race; Native Americans, including persons of American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut or native Hawaiian ancestry; Asian-Pacific Americans, which includes anyone whose ancestry stems from Asia or the Pacific Islands; Subcontinent Asian Americans, including people whose origins are from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, the Maldive Islands, Nepal or Sri Lanka; and women. Other requirements are that the owner be “knowledgeable in all aspects of the business” and that the qualified person own at least 51 percent of the company. In the case of a corporation, the qualified person must hold at least 51 percent of the stock.

Those who meet the criteria can compete for sole-source contracts with the federal government, up to $3 million for goods and services and $5 million for manufacturing.

To qualify for the Small Disadvantaged Business Certification, a business must be “owned or controlled” by one or more people who are socially or economically disadvantaged. Women and minorities also qualify.

So no excuses! If you are a minority as defined by the SBA and you have that burning desire to start your own business or need some assistance in keeping it running or are looking to take on more business, the SBA may be a key resource for you. Check them out.