Are you a certified minority business enterprise or MBE? If not, it’s time to think seriously about getting started with the certification process.
Why seek MBE Certification?
According to Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council, “it all boils down to one word: access.”
As a certified MBE, you’ll have exclusive access to top corporate purchasing agents, premium networking events, searchable supplier databases, affordable consulting services, technology programs, and vital introductions to nationally known corporations—all through the development council.
Here’s a breakdown on what certification really means to your minority-owned business:
- Access to supplier diversity programs.
Large corporations, majority-owned small businesses, and government agencies want to work with minority suppliers and are constantly looking for minority-owned businesses. However, MBE certification is often required to place your business in their vendor database, and doing so can open up opportunities for real advantages in a competitive marketplace.
- Access to more opportunities to compete for contracts.
Certified businesses find new opportunities to compete for both public and private bids. Some agencies and even businesses stipulate a specified spend on minority suppliers for their projects, and sometimes that means requiring the use of additional contractors or even sub-contractors to reach their diversity deliverables.
- Access to local and national minority supplier directory listings.
When your company becomes a certified MBE, it also gets listed in the national minority supplier database. Public and private-sector firms search for minority suppliers through national listings to find new vendors—and it can connect you to a wider world of opportunities for your business.
- Access to additional tools and training to grow your business.
One of the top benefits of MBE certification is that you gain access to experts and peers who can offer guidance to you. MBEs can sign up to meet with the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) through the minority supplier development council. Their team of small business experts is happy to provide business consulting services at minimal cost to clients— whether you need help with financing, marketing, expanding into new markets, or additional 8(a) certification through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Additionally, the council offers small scale, in-person events that help MBEs improve where needed.
- Access to top networking events in Michigan and elsewhere.
The minority supplier development council hosts a number of large-scale signature events each year—including the Supplier Diversity Summit in Grand Rapids, MI. These events are designed to connect corporate members and certified MBEs with the aim of showcasing minority business capabilities and instigating discussions that lead to new business opportunities.
Who qualifies for certification?
To be eligible for minority certification status, a business must be owned, controlled and managed by U.S. citizens with a majority (at least 51%) classified as racial or ethnic minorities. The term “minority” applies to a person who is a Native American, African-American, Hispanic-American, Asian/Pacific-American, or Asian/Indian-American.
How do I apply for certification?
The Michigan Minority Suppliers Development Council provides MBE certification, and it can take 30-90 days to complete the process. During the certification process, it is the responsibility of the applicant to prove that his/her business meets eligibility criteria and other compliance requirements. You should begin the MBE certification process by reviewing the step-by-step process to have a realistic idea of what is entailed. Then download and printing a copy of the application, available at www.minoritysupplier.org/membership/mbe-certification/mbe-certification-process along with the outlined certification overview.
Source: Adapted from “Benefits of MBE certification” (www.minoritysupplier.org/membership/mbe-certification/benefits-of-mbe-certification) and “MBE Certification Process” (www.minoritysupplier.org/membership/mbe-certification/mbe-certification-process) by the Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council. Additional info from the 2013 West Michigan Regional Minority- and Woman-Owned Business Directory.