An Overview of Minority Business Certifications
And Celebrating the Stars of Supplier Diversity at 27th Annual Awards Program
There are minority business certifications available to assist small businesses in getting more work. Some are from the federal government, others local governments, and even some that are third-party certifiers for the corporate world. Following is a quick overview of some certifications that a minority small business can pursue.
8(a). The 8(a) certification is a designation given by the United States Small Business Administration (SBA). The program is for socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses. The economic disadvantage is easily determined measuring business revenues and the owner's net worth. The socially disadvantaged part may be harder to determine as a narrative must be submitted with anecdotal evidence that the business is disadvantaged because of the ownership. There is a predetermined list of ethnic minorities that may have an easier time getting certified than others. Once certified a business and owner has a once in a lifetime span of nine years to leverage the 8(a) certification for government business.
The SBA 8(a) is probably the premier minority certification and can assist in getting other certifications.
HUBZone. The SBA HUBZone stands for Historically Underutilized Business Zone. It is a geographic designation and a business is allowed to moved its business primary offices into a designated zone to qualify. A HUBZone is determined by the previous census to find areas with high unemployment and/or high levels of poverty. Then businesses that have their principal office and a certain quota of employees who live in these zones qualify for the certification. This certification can help get federal contracts.
Local. Many states, municipalities, counties, etc. and their agencies have their own certification for their projects and contracts. Many times they accept other certifications in lieu of going through their own certifying process.
Minority Supplier Development Council. The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) has a number of regional councils that certify businesses as being minority owned. This is a private certification that is used by Fortune 500 type companies diversify their vendor base. The regional councils typically have strong relationships with corporations that have a presence in their area, allowing certified minority owned small businesses a chance to get more work.