What Small Businesses Need to Know About the MBE Certification

What is the MBE certification?

The Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification officially recognizes and supports the advancement of minority-owned businesses across the United States. 

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) is the primary body responsible for certifying MBEs. As one of the country’s leading corporate membership organizations, they provide a direct connection between certified MBEs and corporate America — including some of the largest and most influential businesses in the world.

What are the benefits of MBE certification?

In addition to the benefits afforded by your state and local community, MBE certification through the NMSDC provides:

  • Access to top corporate purchasing agents
  • A listing in the national minority supplier database
  • Exclusive networking events
  • Affordable educational and technology programs

Who qualifies for an MBE certification?

To qualify for an MBE certification, your business must be at least 51% owned, controlled, and actively managed by a recognized minority group in the United States. MBE certifications provided at the state, city, or county level often accept legal residents (green cards), but full proof of U.S. citizenship is required by the NMSDC. In either case, your business must be a for-profit enterprise located in the U.S. or its territories.

What is involved in MBE certification?

The certification process is rigorous (taking up to 90 days), but the better prepared you are upfront, the quicker you’ll be able to begin seeing the benefits for your business.

Here are a few things to know before starting your application:

1. You’ll need to begin by registering with the regional affiliate closest to your headquarters. 

2. Gather all the required documentation to be uploaded with your application ahead of time. (Learn more about the information you’ll need below.)

3. A non-refundable application processing fee will be required based on your business’s annual gross revenue sales.

4. Once your application has been submitted, it will be audited for accuracy and your references will be contacted.

5. A site visit will be scheduled and performed by a NMSDC specialist.

6. After a Certification Compliance Committee has reviewed your completed application, the Board of Directors will issue final approval.

What documentation is required for certification?

The specific identification and financial information required by the NMSDC will vary depending on your business structure. But in general, you’ll need to be prepared to provide the following:

  • A signed, dated and notarized affidavit/declaration
  • A driver’s license or valid ID and proof of citizenship (U.S. passport, birth certificate, and voter ID card) 
  • Proof of ethnicity for owners, partners, and/or shareholders (foreign passports, birth certificates of individuals, parents, or children)
  • Indian/Native American blood degree certificate and/or tribal registry
  • Two years of federal tax returns
  • Current financial statements
  • At least two current invoice receivables with corresponding proof of payment (canceled check, deposit slip, etc.)
  • Applicable operating business license or permits
  • Applicable occupational licenses
  • Lease agreements, equipment rentals or purchase agreements (if applicable)
  • Resumes of owner(s), partner(s), shareholder(s), and key employees
  • Bank signature card
  • Proof of general liability insurance and in some cases bonding
  • And more…

With more than 25 years of experience, Sage Business Consulting can help you navigate the MBE certification process faster and with less frustration. Learn more about the NMSDC MBE program and see how we can open new doors for your business.