How to Get Certified as a Minority-Owned Small Business – AARP

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En español | When it’s time to grow your small business, every new opportunity can be valuable. That’s why it’s important for businesses that are diversity-owned to get certified as such. Many government agencies and larger corporations are eager to contract work out to smaller businesses that are majority-owned by racial minorities, women, LGBT individuals, people with disabilities or veterans. If your business meets the criteria, a minority-owned business certification could be a key that unlocks the door to growth.
In addition to offering access to new contracting opportunities, certification can also help shape your business’s future and agenda. For example, other benefits of certification could include:
Which organizations offer certifications? The groups that award certificates to minority-owned businesses are, in a word, diverse. They include the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), Disability:IN, the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) and the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Minority-owned small businesses should also consider the Small Business Administration’s (8a) certification program if their business’ revenues exceed a minimum of $10 million a year. The Department of Veteran Affairs offers its own diversity certification for veteran-owned small businesses.
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Certification Process. Most providers charge a fee for a certification that lasts two years. The steps to becoming a certified minority-owned business include:
Eligibility. Small businesses that are considered eligible include:
Documents Typically Required. The documents required by the different certification providers varies. Typically, during the certification process, small-business owners are asked to provide:
The Do’s and Don’ts of Certification. Certification providers recommend becoming a member of a certifying body to avoid paying application fees. Furthermore, experts recommend that, if possible, small-business owners allow for a 90-day processing time, since fees for expedited service can top $1,000. Once a small-business owner is a certified supplier, experts recommend that they:
Small-business owners have the opportunity to expand revenue streams and extend into a B2B model with a Minority-Owned Supplier Certification. Equally important, large companies are eager to do business with small, minority-owned businesses as society and business leaders face a racially and socioeconomically disadvantaged past. Small-business owners can start the process by contacting their local certification provider and organizing the relevant documents.
Learn more about the AARP Supplier Diversity Program.
Ashley Powdar is employer content lead for AARP’s Financial Resilience team. She works with participants in the organization’s Employer Pledge Program to promote the value of a multigenerational workforce. She also assists and reports on issues that affect small business owners.
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