A disadvantaged business enterprise, or DBE, is a certification that allows qualifying businesses to participate in DBE programs as outlined by individual states. Such programs seek to promote the inclusion of socially or economically disadvantaged organizations, such as women and minority-owned businesses, in the distribution of government subsidized contracts.
According to the Department of Transportation, of the funds allocated to transportation technology and research, mass transit and Federally-subsidized highways, a minimum of 10% is to be allocated to disadvantaged business enterprises.
Most states maintain a registry of eligible business that qualify as a DBE and outline the relevant criteria for certification. For example, California's Department of Transportation has DBE requirements pertaining to the personal net worth, management and control, ownership and revenues of a business.
Only for-profit companies designated as "small" can qualify for DBE status. The maximum size of a small business cannot exceed $22.41 million.
Groups who are presumed to be economically or socially disadvantaged include Subcontinent Asian and Asian-Pacific Americans, Native Americans, Hispanics and African Americans.