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Oh. Maybe it's a NYC-centric certification. Certified Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprises (M/WBE) have more opportunities to bid on public contracts and increase their capacity.
The free classes to learn if you qualify are offered by the NYC Business Solutions office. Does your city offer something similar? Is there a city website? Mine is nyc.gov and I just navigate to the Business titled section for resources.
I'm taking this class in June, but wanted to hear from others who have already gone through the process.
Hi, do you have to fall in any particular type of business category or be a non-profit or 5013c type to qualifyfor benefits? What falls under "Historically Underutilized Business"?
Yes being certified has its privileges. You will be qualified for specific grants as well as the opportunity to work with large agencies for your state that only contracts are given to certified businesses. Some of these contracts are over a period of years and your company will be listed in their data base.
It can be of extreme value if you opt to go down this road. And having been tapped to join teams so that they could appear in compliance, I always encourage women of color to get certified if they can. The work is available, gives you a great degree of credibility and opens up a lane many of us think not to go down. And frankly, although some have their certs, it does not always make them the right fit for a contract, just in the government's eyes--the best qualitifed. The process is a bit tedious, but the rewards can be huge. And many times, very long term if not permanent. I've seen folks collect checks for no to little work, which sucks for those of us looking to do a good job but not getting the contract because we don't have the certs.
So, to answer your question: Yes it is worth it, if you opt to take your business in this direction. Good luck!
The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce has a Supplier Diversity Initiative program for LGBT owned businesses and I am on their certification committee as well as a site visitor for the program.
The process is not difficult it's just a lot of paperwork - 3 years of tax returns, references, copies of IDs, substantiating paperwork like any press coverage or awards, etc. Regardless of the certification (minority owned, woman owned, LGBT owned), the biggest question is whether or not the applicant really owns 51% (or more) of the business or (for example) is the company owned by a man trying to qualify for a woman-owned business certification just because his wife owns a portion of the company? or is the applicant just the face of the company? To establish an answer to that, the certification committee verifies through the tax returns and all the other information listed above that the person applying is in fact the owner. Loans - including shareholder loans - are evaluated and a site visit with the owner evaluates the general operation of the company to establish if the applicant is the decision maker and true overseer of operations.
Certification programs can be beneficial to a small business owner but it's important to know what types of contracts are available. The NGLCC has contracts with Fortune 500 companies and is acquiring government contracts as well. Each company in the Supplier Diversity Initiative program has a website with a diversity supplier page. First check that the service you provide is on the list of services needed by the companies in the certification program you're researching. If it is, and you get certified, remember yours may be one of several companies offering the same service so you'll still need to make every effort to stand out and be price-competitive.
If any of this sounds overwhelming, it's not. Your local chamber of commerce may be able to help. In my case, I am president of the LA Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, an affiliate chamber of the NGLCC which offers the Supplier Diversity Initiative Program so I am in constant communication with them of the process and any changes to the process and I pass that information along to the members. I can also serve as a resource to members going through the process so the same may be true of chambers in your region.
I am not aware of this opportunity in Georgia.