State agencies as well as organizations like the Small Business Administration and National Minority Supplier Development Council offer certifications to help minority-owned businesses obtain government or private sector contracts. The certification allows you to do business with companies that might not otherwise give your business a chance to prove itself. The application process differs depending on the type of certification, so analyze your business goals to determine which one to apply to first.
Meet Basic Requirements
Most certification programs require that a business is at least 51 percent owned by someone who is Asian-Indian, Black, Hispanic, Native American or Asian-Pacific. The National Minority Supplier Development Council also requires that you be an active owner who is at least 25 percent Black, Native American, Hispanic or Asian to qualify. You must own a for-profit business, and be prepared to share details about your company’s finances, operations and management policies.
The National Minority Supplier Development Council certification process includes screenings and personal visits from one of the organization’s 37 regional councils to determine your eligibility. You then complete an application and provide documents such as a certificate of incorporation, lease agreements or security deeds if you own a home-based business, and copies of general liability insurance policies. As of 2015, plan to pay a fee ranging from $350 to $1,200 to get certified, depending on the area in which your business is located.
SBA 8(a) Certification
Apply for the SBA’s 8(a) certification to get contracts with private sector corporations as well as the federal government through its Central Contractor Registration database. Once certified, you also gain access to business counseling, training and marketing assistance to help grow your business. To be eligible, you must have been in business for a minimum of two years before you apply. You must also show operating revenue for that time period. Check with your local SBA office to start the application process, which includes filling out an online application and providing copies of financial statements, tax returns and personal history statements.
According to Inc. magazine, 15 states offer formal certification programs and most of the others have goals for awarding state contracts to minority-owned businesses. In Maryland, for example, you start the application process by attending a free workshop to learn how to become a Minority Business Enterprise that can fulfill state, county and city contracts. Find out if your state offers certification by visiting the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Minority Business Development Agency website. The site provides contact information for all state agencies that participate in such a program.
Nancy Wagner is a marketing strategist and speaker who started writing in 1998. She writes business plans for startups and established companies and teaches marketing and promotional tactics at local workshops. Wagner's business and marketing articles have appeared in "Home Business Journal," "Nation’s Business," "Emerging Business" and "The Mortgage Press," among others. She holds a B.S. from Eastern Illinois University.