Minority and Women Owned Businesses Need Certification


One of the most often asked question at the Small Business Deveopment Center: what programs are available for Minority and Women Owned Business Enterprises (MWBE)?

The answer is simple, but the process can be complex. In a competitive business-to-business and business-to-government market, certification can make the difference between securing a procurement contract or not.

Certification does not result in buyers breaking down your door to do business, but it is an important piece of your overall marketing strategy. As a tool certification creates greater exposure with inclusion in many databases and directories specific to minority and women owned designated companies.

Also, certification provides access to government and larger Fortune 1000 companies opportunities that set-aside certain percentages of contracts to MWBEs. Most of these organizations will not do business with diverse companies without certification. The designation states that your company has at least 51 percent minority and women ownership and that you control and operate that business.

The certification designation also provides a level of credibility and viability for a small business. It shows that the company passed an examination of business records, references, and overall business practices. Another sign of viability is the requirement for a business to be operating for at least one year for state and two years for federal certification.

Empire State Development, New York’s economic development agency, administers the MWBE state certification program. The program is designed to assist in the growth and development of MWBEs with the overall goal of increasing participation of those businesses in New York State procurement opportunities.

Upon certification, a MWBE is officially recognized by State agencies and authorities as a source of goods and services. These companies are also indentified in directories that are used beyond New York State by the federal government and major corporations.

The federal certification program, the SBA 8(a) program, has different requirements and can be somewhat lengthy. For the time being I would suggest going through the State certification and file an 8(a) application on a later date. This will also give you an idea as to whether or not the procurement programs are working for you.

If you are small company that is not interested in becoming a supplier to large corporations and governmental agencies, you will not benefit. And you should consider how your type of business products and services fit into the market place. For instance, retailers would not be good candidates, while I know a local women-owned painting company that has done well with state contracts.

The best place to start is Empire State Development where you can find further criteria and applications. Also, utilize local business development groups for assistance. Many organizations such as the SBDC have a staff member specifically dedicated to helping businesses through the certification process. There are also various training workshops that focus on certification, for example, check out this event.

Friday, October 17th

Why certify as a minority- or woman-owned business?

Sponsor: McKenna, Long & Aldridge LLP

Valuable procurement opportunities are widely available for minority- and woman-owned business enterprises (MWBE), and contractors are constantly seeking to work with these companies. Presented by the Chamber’s Entrepreneurial Assistance Program, this informative event features Michael Jones-Bey, Executive Director, NYS Division of Minority and Women Business Development, who will discuss the many benefits of MWBE certification and how to use your certification to generate new business. Embrace the opportunities that await you. It just might be one of the best business decisions you’ll ever make.

8:30am – 10:00am / the Desmond, 660 Albany-Shaker Road, Albany / Cost: $10, open to the public




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