Minority-owned businesses have historically lacked access to capital, and in an effort to level the playing field, governmental bodies and private companies have special designations for minority-owned businesses which can give them an edge.

Each business entity type has to submit different forms, so it’s important to choose the correct entity for legal protection and tax consequences, and to observe the formalities.

Private Sector

National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) is one of the largest nationally recognized providers of the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification.


  • United States citizen
  • At least 51% minority-owned operated and controlled.
  • Be a for-profit enterprise and physically located in the U.S. or a territory
  • Minority member(s) must be involved in management and daily operations of business

Owner Documentation Requirements

  • Complete certification application
  • US citizenship
  • Proof of ethnicity/tribal enrollment for minority owner(s), partners, shareholders
  • Business license/permits (if applicable)
  • Capabilities statement (history, core competency and capabilities of business)
  • Resumes for all owner(s), partner(s), shareholder(s)
  • Company’s work or contract history, last 3 years
  • Insurance/bond evidence (if applicable)
  • 2 years of business tax returns (or 3 years of owners’ tax returns if in business is less than 1 year)
  • recent financial statements (or projections if in business less than 1 year)
  • Outstanding debt
  • Bank/Business Signature Card
  • DBA or assumed name (if applicable)

Company Documents (based on the type of business entity)

  • Corporations submit:                                                                                                  
  • articles of incorporation
  • corporate bylaws
  • certificate of corporation
  • minutes of first board meeting
  • stock certificates, stock ledger and proof of stock purchase
  • proof of capital interest

LLCs submit:      

  • articles of organization
  • operating or company agreement
  • membership certificate(s)meeting minutes (first and most recent meetings)
  • proof of capital interest

Partnerships submit:

  • partnership agreement
  • buy-out rights
  • profit sharing agreement
  • proof of capital investment

Sole Proprietorships submit:

  • certificate of ownership or assumed name filed with the Secretary of State
  • business lease agreement or title/security deed, mortgage statement and/or property tax statement
  • equipment rental or purchase agreements (if applicable)
  • list of all equipment,tools and inventory owned or used in daily operation, plus management service agreements

Government Sector

The Small Business Administration (SBA) has the 8(a) Business Development Program for MBEs that want to be certified for government contracting.


The business must be a small business with demonstrated potential for success.The owner(s) must possess good character and be (majority) US citizens.The business is controlled/managed by socially and economically disadvantaged individual(s).

(Separate eligibility requirements exist for a business that is owned by American Indians, Native Alaskans, Native Hawaiians or Certified Development Companies.)

What is social disadvantage?

The SBA defines socially disadvantaged individuals as “those who have been subjected to racial or ethnic prejudice or cultural bias within American society because of their identification as members of groups without regard to their individual qualities.”

Groups that automatically meet the requirements for a socially disadvantaged background are:

  • Black Americans
  • Hispanic Americans
  • Native Americans
  • Asian Pacific Americans
  • Subcontinent Asian Americans

The majority of the ownership of the business must have US citizenship.  If the business owners do not fall into one of the above-named groups, then actual evidence of social disadvantage is required.

What is economic disadvantage?

Social disadvantage is a separate qualification from economic disadvantage.  To prove economic disadvantage, provide:

  • A narrative statement of economic disadvantage (yes, this is an essay requirement)
  • personal financial information (tax returns and other proof requires by the SBA)

Editor’s Note: It is up to you as the business owner to determine if getting certified an Minority Owned Business (or a Woman Owned Business for that matter.) If you’re planning to go after large contracts or deals, or plan to work as a Federal Contractor, there are definite upsides to consider.

This post originally appeared on Hire Effect™: https://hireeffect.com/index.php/2019/02/11/minority-business/


This article does not create an attorney-client relationship. This article is for general education purposes only and is not legal advice. You should consult with a qualified attorney before you rely on this information.