How To Become A Certified Black- Or Minority-Owned Business
Many minority-owned businesses face an unfair struggle, which is why federal government programs and private sector organizations have stepped in to provide support and resources to create a more level playing field.
If you're a minority and you own or are the majority owner of a business, your business may qualify for respected and supportive certifications.
This article will cover the certifications available to Black- and minority-owned businesses including what it takes to qualify, how to apply, and why it's worth your time.
Black-Owned & Minority-Owned Certification Benefits
The federal government is required to make a certain percentage of their purchases from small businesses and those with a presumed disadvantaged status. Businesses that are certified as minority-owned can take advantage of those types of government contracting opportunities and special government programs.
Especially if certified through the Small Business Administration, you would also have access to:
- A Business Opportunity Specialist to help navigate federal contracting
- Management and technical assistance including business training, marketing guidance, counseling, and high-level executive development
- Small Business Administration's (SBA) Mentor-Protégé program where mentors help protégés meet goals and compete for contracts
Additionally, this designation is a powerful marketing tool. Businesses and consumers seek out "certified Black-owned businesses" and "certified minority-owned businesses." They want to see your community and small business succeed. Use hashtags to garner social media engagement and tout the status proudly on your marketing materials.
Last but certainly not least, networking opportunities. You can join national and local small business agencies, local chambers, and other business groups in your community. Use them to network, learn, and carve out a path for your business.
For Black-owned businesses, the U.S. Black Chambers provides resources and initiatives, supports African American Chambers of Commerce, and focuses on developing and growing Black enterprises.
What are my certification options?
You may qualify for the Small Business Administration's Business Development Program, which is geared toward minority-owned businesses.
To qualify, the minority business owner must hold 51% or more of the company (this can be in stocks, bonds, or liquid assets). Qualifying minority groups include African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian Pacific Americans, and Subcontinent Asian Americans.
Another certification you may qualify for is the National Minority Supplier Development Council's MBE certification. This organization helps connect minority-owned businesses with opportunities and partnerships. The NMSDC assists more than 12,000-certified minority-owned businesses by helping match them with large corporations that wish to increase supplier diversity.
Qualifying minority groups include United States citizens who are Asian, Black, Hispanic, and Native American. The business must be at least 51% owned by such individuals in addition to controlling management and daily operations.
How do I apply?
The steps vary by organization. Continue reading to understand the process for each.
Small Business Administration's 8(a) Business Development Program
You'll receive a letter in the mail informing you if your application was approved or not. If you're accepted into the program, your profile in the Dynamic Small Business Search will show your approval date and exit date for the program.
Once you've received program approval, you should update your SAM.gov business profile to show contracting officers that your business is in the 8(a) program.
Your certification will last for a maximum of nine years and you'll need to complete annual reviews to maintain your good standing in the program.
National Minority Supplier Development Council's MBE certification
To apply for the MBE certification through the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), you'll first need to register on their site and review the listed criteria and necessary documentation linked above.
Once you've gathered your documentation, you can begin the application process through the website of the regional affiliate closest to you.
Once you've successfully completed your application, you may receive a site visit performed by an NMSDC certification specialist. If your application is approved, you will be notified via email as well as postal mail.