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Illinois Metro East Small Business Development Center at SIUE

Growing Your Business

School of Business

Qualifications & Standards

To participate in any of the SBA’s small business contracting assistance programs, you’ll first need to qualify as a small business. The SBA’s size standards determine whether or not your business qualifies as small.

Most of the socio-economic programs require some form of certification. Many programs use the website to let you certify or do a preliminary check to see if you’re qualified.

However, each program has its own standards and process for certification, so make sure to read carefully.

You’ll also need to have a profile at before you can use the certification website.

Programs & Certifications

  • Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) Program
    • The SBA administers two particular business assistance programs for small disadvantaged businesses (SDBs). These programs are the 8(a) Business Development Program and the Small Disadvantaged Business Certification Program. While the 8(a) Business Development Program offers a broad scope of assistance to socially and economically disadvantaged firms, the SDB Certification Program strictly pertains to benefits in federal procurement. 8(a) firms automatically qualify for SDB certification.
    • What exactly is a Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB)? The U.S. Small Business Administration reports the eligibility as to what is considered an SBD.
      • To learn more and see if you are eligible for these programs, click here.
  • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program
    • DBE's are for-profit small businesses where socially and economically disadvantaged individuals own at least a 51% interest and also control management and daily business operations.
    • The DBE program supports small businesses who are controlled by socially and economically disadvantaged factors.
    • To participate, individuals must receive DBE certification from the relevant state–generally through the state Uniform Certification Program (UCP).
      • For more information and to see if you are eligible for this program, click here
  • Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Program
    • This program is for minority group members who are Asian, African American, Hispanic and Native American. Ownership by minority individuals means the business is at least 51% owned by such individuals or, in the case of a publicly-owned business, at least 51% of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals i.e. the management and daily operations are controlled by those minority group members.
  • Women Business Enterprise Program
    • This program is for industries where women-owned small businesses (WOSB) are underrepresented so they can receive business contracts. However, some contracts are restricted to support economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB).
    • Before you can participate in the women’s contracting program, you must be either self-certified or third-party certified. Both methods will require you to use the website. You’ll need to have a profile at before you can use the certification website.
      • To learn more and see if you are eligible for this program, click here.
  • Veteran Business Enterprise Program
    • Also known as Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business
    • This program helps disabled veterans’ to make your business eligible to compete for the program’s set-aside contracts. You can still compete for contract awards under other socio-economic programs you qualify for.
    • Represent yourself as a disabled veteran-owned business. To do this,  update the socio-economic status section of your business profile at
  • Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) Program
    • This program helps small businesses in urban and rural communities to gain preferential access to federal procurement opportunities.
    • The program makes your business eligible to compete for the program’s set-aside contracts.
  • Natural Resource Sales Assistance Program
    • The government sells large amounts of natural resources and surplus property. The SBA uses small business set-asides to help small businesses get a fair share of government property sales and leases.
    • The program covers five categories of federal resources.

        • Timber and related forest products
        • Strategic materials
        • Royalty oil
        • Leases involving rights to minerals, coal, oil, and gas
        • Surplus real and personal property
      • For more information and to see how to participate, click here.
  • Small Mentor-Protégé Program
    • This program helps you find an experienced government contractor to aid in mentoring in several business areas.
    • Areas such as internal management, financial, contracts, international business, business development, administrative assistance and more. 
      • To see if you qualify for the program, click here.
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