Small Business Certifications
Open new doors as a certified, minority owned business. s
The Leverage You Need
Major corporations and government agencies are searching for certified small businesses to add to their vendor lists, could your company benefit?
As a certified small, minority, women, or veteran-owned business, you will have access to Requests for Proposals (RFPs) that were previously unattainable. This places you, a minority supplier, in front of decision makers who are committed to providing opportunities to minority-owned businesses. While competing suppliers must be qualified for the contract, small business certifications give added weight in the evaluation process.
Private Sector: Interest from Corporate Buyers
Supplier diversity refers to corporate buyer programs that encourage a diverse range of suppliers. This is not just an act of charity. Interestingly, supplier diversity provides a competitive advantage that contributes to the corporate buyer’s bottom line. In fact, the Hackett Group found that the majority of world class organizations who engage in supplier diversity spend about 20% less on buying operations, and the number of procurement staff is less than half of their counterparts. Supplier diversity does not just help the certified woman or minority-owned business, it helps the corporate buyer as well.
In order to receive a higher chance of winning these contracts, you will need your small business certifications. These include the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone), Women-Owned Small Business (WBE) and (WOSB), and Service-Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business Concern (SDVOSBC), and 8(a) program certifications.
Gather new opportunities with these certification programs. Which one applies to you?
SBA WOSB and EDWOSB Programs: Set-Aside Government Contracts
If you’re a female business owner looking to increase access to federal government contracts, we recommend the Womanb Owned Small Business (WOSB) program.
The WOSB program is a relatively new initiative set by the Small Business Administration (SBA). Put into effect in 2011 and revised in 2020, this program authorizes Contract Officers (COs) — those who bind the Federal Government to contracts — to set aside certain contracts for those who are eligible. Once certified, you can participate in the program indefinitely, as long as your business continues to meet the eligibility requirements.
In addition, the SBA created the Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) program for those who can prove economic disadvantage. Those in the EDWOSB program are considered WOSBs; therefore, they can compete for both EDWOSB and WOSB opportunities.
What Are the Benefits of the WOSB Program?
The federal government is required to reserve 5% of its contracting dollars each year for small businesses owned by women. As a WOSB, you are eligible for set-asides with no restrictions on dollar amounts. WOSBs are also able to participate in joint ventures under certain conditions.
SBA VOSB and SDVOSBC Programs: Sole Source and Set-Aside Government Contracts
The Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) programs are designed to give veterans and service-disabled veterans preferential access to government contracts. Created by the Small Business Administration (SBA), certified businesses can bid on contracts that are set aside especially for them. In addition, VOSBs and SDVOSBs can be awarded sole source contracts as well.
Government agencies are required to set aside at least 3% of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards for small businesses controlled by service-disabled veterans. The SBA defines a disability as service-related if it occurred during active duty in military, Navy, or Air Force.
What Are the Benefits of the VOSB and SDVOSB Programs?
If you are involved in the SDVOSBC program, you will have a higher chance of winning set-aside and sole source contracts with government agencies. Set-asides are contracts that are to be fulfilled exclusively by small business concerns. To be automatically set aside for small businesses, a federal purchase must be between $3 thousand and less than $150 thousand. Sole source contracts are awarded to one supplier without a competitive process.
NMSDC MBE Program: Corporate Buyer Contracts
For minority business owners who wish to expand their network in the private sector, we recommend a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification through the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).
The Federal Government sets aside a minimum of 23% of total acquisition dollars to be spent on diverse businesses. While an MBE certification does not guarantee a contract with a corporate or government buyer, it does serve as a prestigious marketing tool that increases visibility and the chances of winning such contracts.
Supplier diversity programs within corporate institutions require valid MBE certification to meet supplier diversity goals. The NMSDC currently holds 23 affiliate offices worldwide with over 1,700 corporate members, including top public and private companies, universities, hospitals, and others.
Upon certification, MBE members are included in the NMSDC database, which corporate buyers use to select suppliers. Everyone in the program has access to networking opportunities with corporate buyers that are eager to partner with diverse enterprises. Other opportunities, such as capital loans and mentor-protégé pairings, are available through higher levels of membership.
What Are the Benefits of the NMSDC MBE Program?
Members of the NMSDC MBE program have access to the following opportunities and services:
- Business opportunity fairs and conferences
- Joint ventures
- Educational development
- Awards and special recognition
- Request for Proposals (RFPs), business
- leads, and alerts for procurement opportunities
- Subscription services: These paid services provide access to premium events, introductions to national corporate members, professional development fellowships, mentor-protégé pairings, and technical and financial support.
- Corporate Plus® program: Admittance into this program elevates the MBE’s profile among national corporate members. In this sub-program, NMSDC corporate members nominate MBEs who have demonstrated excellence in fulfilling national contracts.
- Growth initiative: This sub-program grants MBEs access to equity capital from institutional investors. The MBE’s eligibility for the growth initiative is reevaluated annually.
- Centers of Excellence: These modules connect corporate buyers with MBE suppliers in their region. Each module consists of ten corporate members and 16- 20 MBEs.
SBA HUBZone Program: Sole Source and Set-Aside Government Contracts
The Historically Underutilized Business Zones (HUBZone) program is one of the many Small Business Association (SBA) certifications and sole source programs that open up government contracting opportunities for small businesses. If you’re looking to support your community while improving your bottom line, this certification is for you.
Created in response to the Small Business Restoration Act of 1997, this program is designed to reduce unemployment and promote economic prosperity in low-income areas. The goal of the federal government is to award 3% of all contract dollars to businesses in the HUBZone program. In 2020 alone, federal agencies spent more than $13 billion with HUBZone businesses.
What makes the HUBZone program so worthwhile is the improved access to federal procurement opportunities. Certified firms have a far better chance of winning both competitive and sole source federal contracts if they obtain a HUBZone certification. The HUBZone program is managed by the SBA, and certifications last as long as criteria continues to be met.
What Are the Benefits of the HUBZone Program?
Here is how your organization can benefit from a HUBZone program certification:
- A 10% price evaluation preference in full and open federal contract competitions
- HUBZone set-aside and sole source contract opportunities
- Branding as a leader in your community’s economic growth
SBA 8(a) Program: Sole Source Government Contracts
Did you know the government is required by law toprovide opportunities for small businesses? Through special sole source programs, including the Small Business Association (SBA) 8(a) program, small business owners have exclusive access to opportunities and assistance.
The ultimate goal of the 8(a) program is to ensure that socially and economically disadvantaged small businesses thrive in the private sector. Through the (8)a program, small business owners have the opportunity to bid on government contracts with extra weight given during the evaluation process. As you win government contracts, you can use the experience to attract valuable human resources and compete more successfully with larger businesses in both the private and public sectors.
While your business must meet all evaluation criteria to qualify as an 8(a) firm, doing so will increase your chances of receiving an award for a particular bid based on your status.
The 8(a) program lasts for nine years and operates in two phases: a four-year developmental stage and a five-year transition stage. During this period, the SBA tracks your progress through annual reviews, business planning, and systematic evaluations.
What Are the Benefits of the 8(a) Program?
Upon certification as an 8(a) firm, you can:
- Receive sole source government contracts with a ceiling of $4 million for goods and services and $6.5 million for manufacturing.
- Form teams to bid on larger prime contracts.
- Obtain specialized training, counseling, marketing assistance, and high-level executive development.
- Gain potential access to surplus government property and supplies, SBA guaranteed loans, and bonding assistance.
Call or email Nancy at Sage Business today for a complimentary consultation and take the first step toward opening new doors for your business.