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October 10, 2023 11:10am

The Benefits of Minority Business Certification

Minority business certification has emerged as a powerful tool for small businesses, opening an array of opportunities and benefits. Certifications provided by the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and other similar organizations can be a game-changer for minority-owned businesses.

As a minority owned small business, it can be challenging to gain access to opportunities and resources that can help grow and expand your business. One way to overcome this obstacle is to obtain minority certification. Minority certification can provide your business with a multitude of benefits and opportunities that can help take your business to the next level. In this blog post, we will explore the benefits of minority certification for small businesses.

Here are five reasons why obtaining minority certification can be beneficial for your business:

  1. Improved Reputation: Minority certification is a sign of legitimacy and credibility for your business. It demonstrates that your company adheres to a set of ethical standards and values that align with the certification agency. The certification process includes a deep analysis of your business practices, which can be used to improve your overall reputation in the industry. In addition, minority certification can open doors to potential investors and partners who may be hesitant to do business with a non-certified company.
  2. Access to Government Contracts: Many government agencies aim to award a significant percentage of their contracts to Minority Business Enterprises (MBEs). This opens up a vast array of opportunities for certified businesses.
  3. Funding Availability: Minority certification can provide access to special perks such as government grants. These grants can provide crucial financial support, enabling businesses to expand and grow.
  4. Diverse Network: Being a part of a certified MBE provides access to a network of similar businesses. This community can be an invaluable resource for learning, collaboration, and growth. Minority certification can also provide access to networking and business development opportunities, such as conferences and events specifically designed for minority-owned small businesses. These events can help you connect with potential clients, investors, and partners, as well as learn from other successful small businesses.
  5. Increased Visibility: Certified MBEs get listed in the national directory, thereby gaining exposure to potential clients and partners.
  6. Competitive Edge in the Marketplace: The marketplace can be saturated with competition, especially for small businesses. Minority certification can help your business stand out in a crowded marketplace and give you a competitive edge. Many companies and consumers are looking for diversity and inclusion in their business relationships, and being a certified minority-owned business can show that your company is committed to these values.
  7. Business Growth: For small businesses in underrepresented demographics, having a certification can open doors to sustainable growth and success.

Potential Drawbacks of Minority Certifications

While there are several benefits to obtaining a minority business certification, it may not be the right choice for all businesses. The certification process can be time-consuming, require a significant amount of paperwork and be financially expensive. Small businesses with limited resources may find this burdensome.

Furthermore, while certification can open up opportunities, it does not guarantee success. Businesses still need to compete with other certified MBEs for contracts and grants. If a business operates in a niche market with few competitors, the benefits of certification may be limited.

Minority Business Certifications and How to Apply

There are several types of minority business certifications available. Here are a few notable ones and how to apply:

  • National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC): This is a private third-party certification that requires proof of at least 51% ownership and operation by a member of a minority group. Application can be made through the NMSDC’s website.
  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC): For businesses owned and operated at least 51% by a woman or women. Applications can be submitted via the WBENC’s online portal.
  • 8(a) Business Development Program: This program by the Small Business Administration (SBA) helps small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace. You can apply through the SBA’s website.
  • Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE): This certification is for small businesses owned and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Applications can be made through your local state’s transportation website.

The Application Process

Each certification has a specific application process:

NMSDC: Applications can be made through NMSDC’s website.

WBENC: Applications can be submitted via WBENC’s online portal.

8(a) Program: You can apply through the SBA’s website.

DBE: Applications can be made through each state’s local transportation website.

Where to get help

There are several organizations that provide free assistance to eligible minority small businesses to navigate the often-confusing maze of certifications and the application processes.  Here are a few to consider:

  • GLI’s Minority Certification Hub – an official partnership between GLI and the Louisville Small Business Development Center, provides certified coaches to help walk you through the certification process.
  • APEX Accelerator – powered by the SBA, APEX Accelerators provide small business with the guidance to pursue government contracts and certifications.

Obtaining minority certification can be a game-changer for your small business. It can provide access to contract opportunities, improved reputation, funding and other resources, a competitive edge in the marketplace, and access to networking opportunities. If you are a minority-owned small business, consider taking the steps to become certified and take advantage of the opportunities available to you.


David Oetken is the Center Director of the Louisville Small Business Development Center.

He can be reached at [email protected] if you’d like more information on how to get your business certified.