Why Consider Certification, and Who Qualifies?

Women & Minority Business Certification

Women, Minority and Disadvantaged Owned companies find that it is sometimes difficult to differentiate and compete for contracts, bids, and clients. One way in which these businesses can expand revenue is by becoming certified by Federal, State, and/or local governments, or by National Third-Party Certifiers recognizing their status as Women or Minority Owned and/or Disadvantaged Businesses. Business Certification may make these companies eligible for government and corporate set aside programs specifically designed to diversify the supply chain and to provide opportunities for these companies.

These programs make Women, Minority and Disadvantaged Business Enterprises more competitive in local and national markets. Additionally, Certification brings new economic opportunities into their state and supports small businesses with additional resources and action-oriented programming. The actual impact to a city, county and state’s economy expands beyond just these eligible companies.


Different Certifications Have Different Acronyms. For Example:

  • WBE = Women Business Enterprise

  • MBE = Minority Business Enterprise

  • VBE = Veteran Business Enterprise

  • LGBTE = Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Enterprise

  • WOSB = Woman Owned Small Business

  • DBE = Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

States, cities, and counties may have other certification acronyms including combining them, such as WMBE or M/WBE, etc. Not all states, cities, or counties offer certification, but they may recognize a DBE, WBE, MBE, WOSB, VBE, LGBTE certification instead. This is not a comprehensive list but will to give you an idea of what you and your company may pursue if you qualify.

African American small business owner emails her clients.


  • Certification is a marketing tool. It will not help you unless you use it. You should consider certification if you are B2B and…

  • Your product or service is targeted at corporations or retail,

  • Your product or service is targeted at federal, state or local agencies,

  • You do work with or for your state’s department of transportation (DOT),

  • You wish to be included in searchable databases for companies and government agencies who have supplier diversity requirements, or

  • Your customers or clients have requested a specific certification.

If you are a B2C model, you must weigh the benefits of certification. Most individuals (consider a homeowner looking to replace a residential roof) are not going to hire your company based upon your certification status as a minority or woman owned business.


A qualifying individual is usually a woman or recognized minority who owns, manages, and controls 51% or more of a company. In some cases, it can be more than one person, and some certifications allow for ownership by a trust or a parent company, provided all other criteria are met.

Keep in mind:

  • What qualifies as a minority may vary from certification to certification.

  • You must also possess the ability to run your company independent of a non-qualifying individual(s). You may delegate tasks and responsibilities, in some situations.

  • Some certifications require US citizenship while others require legal residence (Green Card).

  • About 60% of the information required for certification is the same for almost every certification, but there can be quite a variation of required documentation. Almost no certification process “rubber stamps” any other certification, even between States, DBE, or the various Third-Party Certifiers.

  • The required documentation is the MINIMUM to be considered for certification. Be prepared to provide more than the minimum required documentation and to be able to answer any inconsistency with supporting documentation.

Note: Even if you meet the criteria as a qualifying individual, your company’s business model may not be eligible for certification. You also may qualify for one certification but be denied for another certification.

NOTE: Requirements AND Eligibility may vary among certifications.

This article was developed by HIT Executive Consulting and Paul Schneider, BSN, MBA. You can learn more about HIT Executive Consulting here www.hitexecutiveconsulting.com.

Paul Schneider

With a deep knowledge of 49 CFR 26, National WBE, National MBE, Federal WOSB, State and Local certifications, and connections with the agencies, individuals and Third-Party Certifiers, Mr. Schneider is a sought-out Subject Matter Expert (SME) on Certifications. Additionally, Mr. Schneider has served as an advisor for the State of Massachusetts Supplier Diversity Office, January 2017, and the United Way of Northern New Jersey, Asset Limited, Income Constrained Employees (ALICE) program, May 2021. Recent Public Speaking events include the North American Wooden Pallet Association Spring Leadership Conference, March 2020, Women and Drones Podcast, April 2020, and Webinar with the Small Business Administration (SBA) for the Utah Manufacturers Association & UAMMI joint webinar: Getting your Women-Owned and Minority-Owned Business Certified, June 2021. Since 2011, HIT Executive Consulting has provided Executive Mentorship, Succession Planning, Start Up Assistance, Company Assessments, and Certification projects for more than 300 companies across the United States and Canada. More than 400 Certifications later, HIT Executive Consulting is a recognized leader in assisting companies with Certifications.

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