The All Small Mentor-Protégé Program – Is it the Right Fit for Your Business?

By Terry Stroud, SBTDC/ PTAC Counselor at Fayetteville State University

In creating this program, the SBA chose to include Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Businesses, Women Owned Small Businesses, and Historically Underutilized Business Zone Businesses under an all-inclusive mentor-protégé program modeled on the successful 8(a) mentor-protégé program. Whether you are a successful prime contractor (potential Mentor, a for-profit business of any size), or a capable small business wanting to grow your business in the government contracting realm (potential Protégé), one should closely examine the program to see if it is a good fit for your company.

The goal of the program is to develop the Protégé firms through their relationship with the Mentor. Ultimately, the protégé attains the experience and knowledge necessary to compete for government contracts without outside assistance from a mentor. For a successful relationship, both the Mentor and Protégé need to benefit. The benefits are typically different for the two entities involved in the program.

Mentor Perspective

A potential Mentor has to consider many issues and answer the question, “How would my participation in the program benefit my business?” Below are some of the benefits of Mentors in the program:

  • Becoming a Mentor may give your business access to some contracts that you otherwise might not be eligible for.
  • You may routinely win contracts that have specific small business requirements or certifications that your business does not possess.
  • You may be in need of a reliable subcontractor and have been unable to find a suitable solution. This could be the opportunity you need to develop one for a long term relationship to fit your needs.

The possibilities and answers are different for each business. However, one should take the time to consider the merits of the program, and to determine if your participation as a Mentor would benefit your business.

Protégé Perspective

The issues of a potential Protégé are essentially the same as a potential Mentor, “How would my participation in the program benefit my business?” As defined by the SBA, Mentor-provided assistance can be sought for any, or all of the following activities:

  • Management and Technical Assistance
  • Financial Assistance
  • Contracting Assistance
  • Trade Education
  • Business Development Assistance
  • General and/or Administrative Assistance.

The possibilities and answers are also different for each potential Protégé business.  Time should be spent to consider all of the possibilities the program has to offer, and to determine if your participation as a Protégé would benefit your business.


The All Small Mentor-Protégé Program is not the answer for all businesses. However, for those who can identify specific areas where it could benefit, it has the potential to open up opportunities that did not previously exist. Working with my clients, I am beginning to see success with the program, benefiting both the Mentor and the Protégé. Is it the right fit for your Business? We can assist you in researching and answering that question. To learn more about the program specifics, take a look at the information provided at the SBA website, and contact your local PTAC counselor.

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