In an article published on August 15, 2019 in Law360, Ambika Biggs discusses how the U.S. Small Business Administration’s All Small Mentor-Protégé Program has been faring since being launched three years ago.
The SBA launched the mentoring program in an effort to help small businesses by allowing them to pair with a mentor, usually a large company, who could help them grow their business by providing financial and technical assistance. This could include mentors offering advice on how to win more federal work or helping with proposals, entering into subcontracting arrangements with protégés either as the prime or subcontractor, providing trade education to their protégés, or entering into joint ventures.
Biggs provides an overview of the program, stating that within six months of its launch, approximately 90 mentor-protégé agreement had been approved, with 870 agreements currently active today. “A major selling point of the program for mentors is that it can provide them access to contracting opportunities that they otherwise would not have,” she explains.
However, there have been a couple of areas of confusion regarding mentor-protégé joint ventures since the program went into effect, such as its similarity to the 8(a) mentor-protégé program and the fact that both the SBA and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs both have programs for veteran-owned companies.
Companies also need to carefully abide by the program’s regulations in order to receive the benefits. “The program can provide benefits to protégés and mentors alike, as evidenced by the increasing number of companies that are participating in it. However, in order to take advantage of all the benefits the program provides, companies need to choose good partners and to be sure they understand the program’s regulations and closely follow them.”
Biggs then outlines best practices for parties once they have entered into a mentor-protégé arrangement to avoid some of the issues that program participants have historically faced, such as obtaining SBA approval before making any changes to the agreement or setting reminders to ensure annual reports and certifications are submitted on time.
Subscribers to Law360 may view the article here.
Kristen M. Chatterton