Special offer 

Jumpstart your hiring with a $75 credit to sponsor your first job.*

Sponsored Jobs are 2.6x times faster to first hire than non-sponsored jobs.**
  • Attract the talent you’re looking for
  • Get more visibility in search results
  • Appear to more candidates longer

Women- and Minority-Owned Business: How to Get Certified

If you’re a woman or member of a minority group, pursuing a certification is a great way for others to learn about your business and offer you valuable new opportunities. To become a certified women- or minority-owned business, you must first prepare for the application process by ensuring you meet all the qualifications. Learn more about what women- and minority-owned businesses are, what it means to be certified and steps to earn your certification.

Post a Job
Create a Culture of Innovation
Download our free step-by-step guide for encouraging healthy risk-taking
Get the Guide

What are women- and minority-owned businesses?

Women- and minority-owned businesses are organizations owned and controlled by women or minorities. These businesses are for-profit companies, where at least 51% of the organization is owned by a woman or a member of a minority group. The woman or minority’s leadership role must entail making daily decisions that impact the company’s operations. Businesses that meet these qualifications can apply for a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) or a Minority Business Executive (MBE) certification to receive recognition as an official women- or minority-owned business.

What does it mean to get certified?

Receiving a certification as a Women Business Enterprise or Minority Business Executive consists of a rigorous application and interview process to confirm you’re an official business in the United States that’s run by a woman or minority member. Common benefits of getting certified include:

  • State and federal government entities outsource much of their projects to these businesses.
  • Larger corporations set spending goals to support and work with women- and minority-owned businesses to strengthen their marketing and outreach efforts.
  • Certifications lead to greater access to programs that help your business succeed, like financial counseling, networking with industry leaders and business funding opportunities.

Steps to become a certified women- or minority-owned business

Before you can claim your organization as an official minority- or women-owned business, you must ensure you have the required qualifications and undergo a careful application and interview process. Follow these steps to learn how to become an official certified women- or minority-owned business:

1. Make sure you meet the qualifications

Before applying for the certification, review the requirements to ensure your business meets all the qualifications. The requirements for women-owned businesses include:

  • At least 51% of the organization must be owned, operated and ran by one or more women
  • The women who own and operate the business must be United States citizens
  • A woman must be in charge of the daily processes and operations in the company
  • One or more of the women owners must control the management of the organization

The qualifications needed to a certified minority-owned business are:

  • At least 51% of the organization must be owned, operated and ran by one or more minority members
  • The minority owner must be a U.S. citizen
  • The owner must have an ethnic background of at least 25% Black, Hispanic, Native American, Asian-Pacific or Asian-Indian descent
  • The minority owner must have paperwork to prove their background

2. Apply through your preferred organization

There are many organizations that offer a WBE or MBE certification. The application fee and process is the same for any program you apply through. For women-owned businesses, apply through one of these organizations:

  • Small Business Administration
  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
  • National Women Business Owners Corporation

For minority-owned businesses, use these organizations to apply:

  • Small Business Association
  • Your local government entity

3. Gather the required documents and materials

Now that you know where you can apply, collect all the documents that prove you meet the requirements to become certified. Both certifications require you to submit specific documents. You must include materials like your general business information and history, owner eligibility, financial structure information, personnel files and management information.

The National Minority Supplier Development Council and Women’s Business Enterprise National Councilwebsites both list all the documents required for both certifications.

4. Pay the application fee

Once you’ve gathered and submitted all the required materials, you must pay a fee to officially submit your application. The fee for the women-owned certification depends on your business’ annual gross revenue and ranges from $350 to $1,250. For minority-owned businesses, your application fee is determined by your local certification office.

5. Get ready for your interview and onsite visit

After finishing your application, an employee from the organization will come visit your company to view your business operations in person and to verify that your application information is correct. They will also ask you questions about your business and its operational processes.

6. Announce your new certification

You’re more likely to receive more business and brand awareness after earning your new certification if you promote and announce it to your target audience. Possible ways to tell others about your new certification includes:

  • Post about it on your website.
  • Update your social media pages with graphics and posts announcing your new certification.
  • Announce it through a newsletter or other email marketing material.
  • Reach out to local government entities or agencies to notify them of your recent certification.
  • Create a press release announcing this certification.
Post a Job
Create a Culture of Innovation
Download our free step-by-step guide for encouraging healthy risk-taking
Get the Guide

Frequently asked questions about women- and minority-owned businesses

How much does an MBE certification cost?

The cost of MBE certifications varies from business to business. It costs anywhere from a few hundred dollars to over a thousand dollars. The price usually depends on your business’ size and location.

How do I get a minority business grant?

There are several grants and loans available for minority-owned small businesses that you simply apply for to receive possible funding opportunities. These include:

Do minority business owners get tax breaks?

Minority business owners don’t receive tax breaks or special incentives. The federal government does award tax breaks to businesses working with minority-owned companies who make their supplies and materials. Companies also get to reduce tax liabilities if they use minority-owned businesses that provide labor or services for any of their projects.

Ready to get started?

Post a Job

*Indeed provides this information as a courtesy to users of this site. Please note that we are not your recruiting or legal advisor, we are not responsible for the content of your job descriptions, and none of the information provided herein guarantees performance.

Editorial Guidelines