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Money Matters: Three SBA programs you probably haven’t heard of and could be taking advantage of

By Ami Kassar

June 1, 2022

Even though many of the pandemic-related aid has ended, there are other options out there for you.

Ever since the onset of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, business owners across the country have become increasingly aware of all that the Small Business Administration (SBA) has to offer. You are probably most familiar with Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and COVID-19 Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL), which were widely discussed and utilized during the pandemic.

While those loans were important, I also encourage you to get to know the SBA’s flagship programs, the 7(a) and 504. On top of that, here are some other SBA programs that you could be taking advantage of. Here are a few that I think are the most helpful:

Small Disadvantaged Business Program. Small businesses that are at least 51 percent owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged individual(s) are eligible to receive around $50 billion in federal contract dollars each year.

Socially disadvantaged individuals, according to the SBA, “are those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society because of their identities as members of groups and without regard to their individual qualities. The social disadvantage must stem from circumstances beyond their control.”

There is no set definition for what the government considers “economically disadvantaged,” but they do have you fill out forms to describe your economic situation.

Veteran assistance programs. Like the Small Disadvantaged Business Program discussed above, the Veteran Assistance Program allocates a specific amount of federal contract dollars to 51 percent or more veteran-owned businesses, but also allows for them to purchase surplus property from the government. The property does have to be used for “normal conduct” of business activities and not for personal use.

There also is a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Program where the government allocates around three percent of federal contracting dollars each year. This program specifies that the veteran’s disability must be service-connected. In addition, the service-disabled veteran must be participating in making long-term decisions and managing the day-today operations.

Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program. Roughly five percent of all federal contracting dollars is allocated to women-owned small businesses each year. Furthermore, there are other contracts available that are in industries where women-owned businesses are thought to be underrepresented. For economically disadvantaged women-owned businesses, there are even more contracts specifically set aside for them.

As with the other programs, 51 percent must be owned and operated by women who are U.S. citizens, manage day-to-day operations and make long-term decisions. The government does specify for women-owned businesses what makes them economically disadvantaged. The woman/women who own or control 51 percent or more of the business each must have:

1. Personal net worth less than $750,000.

2. $350,000 or less in adjusted gross income averaged over the previous three years.

3. $6 million or less in personal assets.

It is important for small business owners to understand that even though many of the pandemic-related aid has ended, there are other options out there for you. It also is worth noting that you can compete for multiple contract awards under any socio-economic programs you qualify for.