As a minority business owner, there are a lot of government-sponsored programs and initiatives available for you if you obtain a minority business certification. In addition to both the federal and local governments, many corporations around the country are constantly seeking ways to do business with minority-owned businesses.
Businesses who obtain a minority certification will not only be easily found by government entities or corporations, but they’ll also be eligible for certain contracts. In fact, some government or private contracts are only open to minority-owned businesses that can prove they have minority business certification.
There are several minority certifications available, so let’s take a look at some of the more popular ones, what it takes to obtain them and what benefits they will have.
What is a minority business certification?
A minority business certification accredits that your business is minority-owned operated and controlled. There are various organizations and programs available to certify you as such, and each has its own requirements and benchmarks, not only how to get certified, but what constitutes a minority-owned business.
To obtain a minority business certification, you have to submit proof of paperwork and other documents through a formal process with the organization that provides the certification. Once you have completed the process and the organization has verified your information, you will receive a formal certificate that declares you as a minority-owned business.
Not only will this be a document to have to show your potential customers, but it will also get you listed on that organization’s website and, most likely, make you eligible for certain contracts or jobs that require that certification.
What minority business certifications are out there?
There are some certifications available for minority-owned businesses. Here are some of the most popular and beneficial programs.
SBA 8(a) Business Development
Offered through the Small Business Administration, this program helps minority-owned businesses gain contracts from public entities.
Some government agencies are required by the Small Business Act to complete some of their contracts with companies that have 8(a) certification. Therefore, they are not only incentivized but held by law to provide contracts to businesses with minority business certifications.
The program is offered to businesses that are owned by U.S. citizens termed as “socially and economically disadvantaged,” this means the person who owns and controls the business may be “subjected to racial and ethnic prejudice,” according to the SBA.
To qualify for the program, at least 51 percent of your business must be owned by individuals who would be classified as economically and socially disadvantaged, and the ownership must be direct.
You must also need to prove you have been in business for at least two years before applying, and what your current income and potential for income are (this is done by submitting two years of tax returns).
You can find out whether you qualify by filling out a self-evaluation online at the SBA’s website. You can also contact a local SBA office for more information, as they provide counseling on a one-on-one basis for free.
If you’re interested in doing business with companies in the private sector, then a good idea would be to obtain minority business certification through the National Minority Supplier Development Council.
The NMSDC’s goal is to help make connections between minority-owned businesses and their corporate members. This allows smaller minority-owned businesses to gain access to large private-sector buyers whom they might not have access to normally.
The program is offered to companies of any size that are operated, controlled and owned by at least 51 percent of an individual or group that is a minority. You’ll need to provide proof of documentation to verify this.
If you are approved, you will be listed on the organization’s online database and you’ll also qualify for specific education and loan programs offered only to certified members.
To apply for this certification, you need to reach out to one of the NMSDC’s regional councils to request an application.
Beyond filling out a form and providing documentation, a member of the organization will visit your office in person to verify your claims as well.
Department of Transportation DBE Certification
The U.S. Department of Transportation requires that at least 10 percent of all money on contracts is awarded to minority-owned businesses. To do so, they offer a minority business certification program for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises.
If you get this certification, your minority-owned business will be eligible to compete for highway, airport and transit contracts that are funded by the federal government.
To qualify, your company must be at least 51 percent owned by someone classified as belonging to a minority group. You will not qualify for the program if your net worth is more than $750,000.
To receive this minority business certification, you must provide documents that will verify your company’s size and ownership structure. The DOT will oftentimes visit your place of business in person to verify this information as well.
Applying and getting certified is free. If you think you can apply, you should reach out to your local DOT for more information and an application.
Women’s Business Enterprises Certification
If you are a woman and own a business, then another minority business certification available to you is through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. By obtaining this certification, you will be eligible for certain contracts at the federal level, as well as gain access to mentoring programs and marketing materials.
The organization says its goal is to help facilitate business opportunities between women-owned businesses and the government.
To qualify, your business must be at least 51 percent owned and operated by a woman or a group of women.
The certification process includes an application as well as a site visit from someone from the organization.
Visit the WBENC’s website or contact one of their regional partner organizations for more information and to apply.
You can also get a Women-Owned Small Business Certification.
Learn who can apply for this certification and how to get it.
How to get minority business certification
Each organization has its specific qualifications and process for obtaining a minority business certification. But generally speaking, you will be required to fill out an application and provide supporting documentation that verifies that your company is at least 51% owned, controlled and operated by a person or group of people who are classified as minorities.
Some of the organizations require you to have been in business for at least two years and provide financial information to proves this. Others will need proof that your company has potential.
Some of the programs are free for minority-owned businesses to get certified, while others come with a fee.
Check with each program before applying to find out all the pertinent information you need.
You can also apply for small business grants for Latino business owners
Get Certified as a Minority-Owned Business
There are many benefits to obtaining minority business certifications with multiple organizations. In addition to proving to others that you are a minority-owned business, doing so will open up additional possibilities for contracts that might not exist without the certification.
If you have a minority-owned business, you should seriously consider applying for at least one of the minority business certification programs. If more than one would be a fit for you based on your specific business and/or location, then, by all means, apply for several.
Another great way to learn more about how to grow your business and receive more business management ideas is to subscribe to the Camino Financial Newsletter. Doing so will allow you to join a community of over 30,000 like-minded entrepreneurs just like yourself who are passionate about building a legacy in business.
At Camino Financial, we provide these free resources and educational information so that we can live up to our motto of “No Business Left Behind.”