An excellent growth tactic for small businesses is to pair with a larger business to go after work and to learn the ropes of government contracting. One way to do this is through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protege program. In this program, a small and a large business come together to help the small business grow. Some of the business development areas that might be used to assist the small business include:

  • Guidance on internal business management systems, accounting, marketing, manufacturing, and strategic planning
  • Financial assistance in the form of equity investments, loans, and bonding
  • Assistance navigating federal contract bidding, acquisition, and performance process
  • Education about international trade, strategic planning, and finding markets
  • Business development, including strategy and identifying contracting and partnership opportunities
  • General and administrative assistance

Who is Eligible?

To qualify as a protégé, your business must be small by SBA standards, have industry experience, be organized as a for-profit or as an agricultural cooperative and have a proposed mentor prior to applying for the program. The small business can have no more than two mentors in its lifetime.

A mentor must be organized as a for-profit or as an agricultural cooperative. Mentors can have no more than three protégés at a time.

These agreements are good for three years, with one extension allowable for another three years. There is an annual evaluation report requirement due the SBA.

The small business and the large business that develop a mentor-protégé agreement can form a Joint Venture. Joint Ventures formed this way would qualify for set-aside contracts that the small business is eligible for, such as service-disabled veteran owned, woman-owned and HUBZone contracts.

Help is Available

For no-cost assistance with the SBA’s All Small Mentor-Protege Program, contact me at or (307) 772-7372 or contact your local Wyoming SBDC Network advisor by clicking here.

About the Author: Andi Lewis is our PTAC Government Procurement Specialist. She has been doing PTAC work for over 6 years and enjoys helping business owners navigate the “bureaucratic quagmire” so that they can register and find government work. She has a background working for large Primes within the Department of Defense and is a former Lieutenant in the Naval Reserve. When Andi isn’t busy helping small businesses work with the government she enjoys training young horses.

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