WOMAN BUSINESS OWNER CERTIFICATION:
Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC): Founded in 1997, WBENC is the nation's leading advocate of women-owned businesses as suppliers to America's corporations. It also is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women in the United States. WBENC works to foster diversity in the world of commerce with programs and policies designed to expand opportunities and eliminate barriers in the marketplace for women business owners. WBENC works with representatives of corporations to encourage the utilization and expansion of supplier/vendor diversity programs.
National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC): Created in 1995, NWBOC was established to increase competition for corporate and government contracts through implementation of a national certification program for women business owners. The development of our national Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) certification program, sponsored by IBM, involved cooperation and input from over 700 public and private sector individuals. The result was the creation of the WBE Application, the process, and the NWBOC Standards and Procedures.
MINORITY BUSINESS CERTIFICATIONNational Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC): NMSDC® provides a direct link between corporate America and minority-owned businesses. NMSDC is one of the country's leading business membership organizations. It was chartered in 1972 to provide increased procurement and business opportunities for minority businesses of all sizes.
SMALL BUSINESS CERTIFICATION
Small Business Certifications are like professional certifications. They document a special capability or status that will help you compete in the marketplace. Unlike permits and licenses, you do not need to obtain certifications to legally operate. However, in order to take advantage of business opportunities, such as government contracts, you may need to obtain some certifications.
Federal, state and local governments offer businesses opportunities to sell billions of dollars worth of products and services. Many government agencies require that some percentage of the procurements be set aside for small businesses. Certifying your business can definitely help you successfully compete for government contracts.
The Federal government sets aside certain contract bid opportunities exclusively for small businesses. In order to compete for these contracts, you must first register as a vendor with the government.
As part of the registration process, you will be required to enter information about your company in the Central Contractor Registration (CCR) database. In the CCR, you may self-certify yourself as a small business, but you must meet the Federal government's definition of a small business.
The U.S. Small Business Administration defines a "small business" in terms of the number of employees over the past year, or average annual receipts over the past three years. Size standards vary by industry. Visit SBA's guide to Classifying Your Business to find out if you can be classified as a small business.
STATE GOVERNMENT CERTIFICATION
Many state governments also provide small business certification programs that help small businesses compete for government contracts. Certification criteria at the state level are different than federal criteria. Visit the State Contracting Opportunities page to find out more about your state's certification programs.