For small technology resellers looking to grow, recent changes to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Mentor Protégé Program could be a flat-out game changer. Here’s what you should know about what’s new—and how streamlined rules could help you gain invaluable experience on government contracts.
The SBA officially consolidated its decades-old 8(a) Business Development Mentor-Protégé Program into the newer All Small Mentor-Protégé Program. The driving force behind the change: to eliminate confusion between the two programs, remove unnecessary duplications and establish one unified SBA team to better coordinate mentor-protégé applications. The change took effect Nov. 16, 2020.
How is the program simpler now?
Mentor-protégé relationships involving an 8(a) program protégé will now be governed by the same requirements and processes as any other small business protégé. For example, the change eliminates the requirement that joint ventures between an 8(a) protégé and its mentor obtain pre-approval from SBA before receiving a contract award.
What are a few of the most impactful changes?
For one thing, it eliminates the SBA 8(a) program altogether—removing the separate set of rules for 8(a) businesses. Today, 8(a) firms have the same rules and benefits as other small businesses, which makes it easier to manage and leverage this program successfully.
The new rules also make it easier for a protégé to provide feedback to the SBA on an underperforming mentor and get SBA assistance in corrective action or termination of the relationship.
Beyond these changes, the streamlined program now reflects updated rules for joint ventures, multiple-award contracts and recertification. For more explanation on these and other updates, check out this helpful overview from Wiley Law
Why is this great news for growth-minded resellers?
“Ingram Micro’s Public Sector team supports a lot of smaller technology resellers who want to grow their expertise, add to their business portfolio and expand their proven performance,” said Amanda Brant, GSA 2GIT BPA program manager, Promark. “With these changes to the SBA Mentor Protégé Program, smaller partners have more flexibility to explore and strategize new business opportunities. They can rethink how to partner with large businesses to lend their own expertise and also grow in their performance to support government needs.”
What do both parties gain from teaming up?
By partnering with larger businesses (acting as “mentors”), smaller businesses (the “protégés”) can expand their reach and fill gaps in their own offerings, such as stronger financing options or global technical staff. They also gain experience and build “past performance” that’s often required on large government RFPs, which makes them look more suitable for future contracts.
Larger businesses gain something, too. They want to partner with smaller businesses to leverage niche products, unique skill sets or technical advancements they simply don’t have.
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