Does Your Business Qualify as Woman- or Minority-Owned?

Cliff Ennico on

"My husband and I started a consulting business a while back, and we are finding ourselves getting more and more business from government agencies and nonprofit organizations. There's only one problem: Many of these people want to know if we are a 'minority-owned enterprise' or a 'woman-owned enterprise' so they can comply with federal and state laws requiring that a certain%age of their business be given to minority or woman-owned contractors.

"I am female and own 51% of the business. My husband and I are both members of recognized minority groups. Is that enough to qualify?"

Believe it or not, the answer may well be no, at least for a female-owned business.

In order to qualify as a minority- or woman-owned enterprise, you need to be certified as such by a recognized organization that provides seals of approval as part of its mandate.

For woman-owned businesses, the gold standard for certification is the Women's Business Enterprise National Council in Washington, D.C.

For minority-owned businesses, the gold standard for certification is the National Minority Supplier Development Council in Washington, D.C.


For purposes of NMSDC's certification program, a minority group member is an individual who is a U.S. citizen and can provide documentation that he or she is at least 25% minimum Asian (either Asian Indian American or Asian Pacific American), black, Hispanic or Native American.

Mere 51% ownership of a business by a woman or minority group member will not be enough to qualify for certification. The NMSDC also requires that minority group members control the daily management and operations of the business.

The WBENC certification criteria go further, requiring the following evidence:

--The contribution of capital and/or expertise by the female business owner is real and substantial and in proportion to the interest owned.


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