How to Become a Certified Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)

Jan 31, 2022

Private corporations and government agencies are looking for minority-owned businesses to work with. Get certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) to bring them to your business.

What are the Benefits of MBE Certification?

As the business world evolves, private companies and government entities want to do a percentage of business with minority, women, or veteran-owned businesses. Working with certified MBEs is good for business for companies that want to improve their brand, boost their community outreach, and take advantage of tax incentives.

These days, private and government entities are more committed to diversity. When it comes to doing the work to become more equitable, seeking out certified MBEs for products and services gives these organizations a way to put their money where their mouth is.

If you want these companies to support your business, consider getting certified as an MBE.

Becoming certified also connects you to a community of other MBEs. These business relationships are valuable as your business grows.

What Counts as an MBE?

A Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) is a business that is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by people of color. That means people of color own the majority of the business and manage its day-to-day functions. African-American, Asian-American, Hispanic-American and Native American business owners qualify for MBE certification. An MBE must also be for-profit businesses located in the U.S., and its owners must be U.S. citizens.

A process is in place to confirm the business as an MBE. This can include document reviews, screenings, and even interviews and site visits.

How do you get MBE certified?

There are different kinds of certifications depending on whether you’re looking to attract corporations of government entities.

Government Contracts:

The SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program supports business that are at least 51% owned and operated by disadvantaged individuals. Registering as an MBE with the 8(a) program is free. The SBA also offers the WOSB program to women-owned small businesses, and HUBZone for small businesses in economically depressed communities. Learn about the SBA MBE Certification and Contracting Programs here.

Individual states also have their own MBE certification programs. Click here to search for MBE resources and eligibility in your state.

Private Corporations:

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSD) offers an MBE Certification for businesses looking for partnerships with private organizations. There is a fee for this MBE Certification. The price is based on the location and size of your business. The process is long and detailed, including a site visit and interview. Don’t worry, they allow you to complete the process in your own time.

In exchange for your patience and your fee, you are added to regional and national NMSD databases where new potential customers can find you. You also have the perk of management training programs, business opportunity fairs, and other benefits.

Getting MBE certified is an investment of time and, sometimes, money. In exchange, you bring more opportunities for revenue, training and relationships to your small business.