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Federal Mentor-Protégé Programs

The federal government runs several mentor-protégé programs, but the U.S. Small Business Administration’s are the most popular and likely the most beneficial for both the mentor and the protégé. The SBA technically runs two programs, the 8(a) mentor-protégé program and the All Small Mentor-Protégé Program but they are so similar in benefit that there is no real difference between them. The All-Small Mentor-Protégé Program grew out of the wild success of the 8(a) mentor-protégé program, which was so in demand that the SBA eventually formed the second program for all types of small businesses. Hence the name All Small. The only difference between the two programs is that in order to be an 8(a) mentor-protégé the protégé member must be an 8(a) business development program participant. (Interested in the 8(a) program? Click here.) But because there is no real difference between the two even many 8(a)s elect to apply for the All-Small Mentor-Protégé Program.  

The reason for the popularity of these programs is that they provide the only path for large businesses to bid on and potentially perform as a prime contractor on small business set aside work in a way that shields them from affiliation. But this is not a way for large businesses to come in and deprive small businesses of work that rightly should be theirs. It is a way for large and small businesses to partner together and for the protégé firm to learn from and develop following the path of its mentor. In fact, the SBA does not view these programs as a government contracting programs, it views them as business development programs.  

The SBA however recognized the potential for abuse. So it requires these relationships to go through an approval process designed to ensure that the protégé firm receives the benefit of the relationship the program intends. It also requires rigorous reporting through the life of the mentor-protégé.  

We can help you with all matters mentor-protégé related including:  

  • Drafting mentor-protégé agreements  

  • Drafting mentor-protégé joint venture agreements 

  • Assisting with answering SBA questions during the application process and beyond 

  • Assisting with compliance during the life of the program 

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