MBE Certifications | Development
Starting and Growing Your Minority Business
Minority Business Assistance Centers
Equal Opportunity in the City of Cleveland
Certification and Compliance Reporting System
Cuyahoga County Diversity Certifications
Ohio Minority Supplier Development CouncilCertification Process
SCORE for Black Entrepreneurs
Resources for Obtaining MBE, WBE, and EDGE Certification for Your Ohio Business
Ohio MBDA Business Center
Raland Hatchett, president and CEO of RH Professional Services, shares expert tips and tricks to getting certified as a Minority Business Enterprise, or an MBE.
Obtaining city, state, or federal minority business certification isn’t easy, but it can unlock some profitable business opportunities. To obtain the certification, the new or existing owner has to be patient, organized, and willing to fill out loads of complicated forms to document their status.
However, gaining the minority business certification can also be lucrative. It gives these business owners great rewards—including access to corporate buyers looking for minority-owned businesses, networking events, and posting on a special database open only to minority certified businesses.
Here is how to overcome the hurdles to becoming a Minority Business Enterprise.
What is a Minority Business Enterprise certification?
A Minority Business Enterprise certification (MBE) is a certification for businesses owned and operated by a U.S. citizen whose ethnicity is African American, Hispanic American, Asian-Indian, Asian Pacific, or Native American. The owner must have a 51% ownership and control of the business and be in business for at least one year.
What is the origin of the MBE?
The Minority Business Enterprise program and the designated certification dates back to 1969 with the establishment of the Office of Minority Business Enterprise—today the Minority Business Development Agency—a federal agency exclusively dedicated to minority business enterprises. In 1973, the Office of Minority Business Enterprise established a national business service network and provided seed funding to numerous minority advocacy organizations.
These organizations included the National Minority Purchasing Council (now known as the National Minority Supplier Development Council), Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, National Economic Development Association (NEDA), the Chicago Economic Corporation and the National Council of LaRaza.
The State of Ohio’s mandate in 1980 to work with minority owned businesses was established through advocacy and legislative efforts.
Why should a minority business owner obtain an MBE certification?
One important point to stress is for business owners to think first about who would want to buy your product. Once you’ve decided who your ideal customer is, then apply for the minority business enterprise certification from either the City of Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, State of Ohio; or the National Minority Supplier Development Council, a national organization that offers access to corporate purchasing agents and supply chains.
A certification (MBE, Woman Business Enterprise (WBE), or other) is not required to operate your business, but it helps by providing businesses with a chance to access new resources and opportunities that are profitable.
What are the benefits of MBE Certification?
Certification gives MBEs exclusive access to top corporate purchasing agents, premium networking events, searchable supplier databases, affordable consulting services, technology programs, and vital introductions to nationally known corporations.
Some examples of the benefits include:
Recertification is for businesses whose certificates have expired after one year. Cross certification is for firms certified with one State agency that is recognized by another State agency or Joint Ventures.
In addition to the technical assistance, the federal, state, local government, and corporations (not for-profit and for profit) have created programs specially designed to help develop the minority owned businesses to level the playing field and help these businesses grow.
An MBE application process is complex and labor intensive, but qualifying for the certification opens the door to corporate buyers, networking events, and a special database. That access can help these businesses expand and grow.
So don’t be discouraged by the process. For many companies aiming to be bigger and better, it is well worth it.
RH Professional Services provides strategic, balanced, and objective business and corporate management consulting services to save businesses time and money. RH works with corporate management to improve their diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, stakeholder engagement, and social impact. RH Professional Services is a full-service management consulting firm that focuses on nonprofit consulting, equity, inclusion and diversity, change management, public relations, strategic planning, leadership development and training.
This story is a part of the Northeast Ohio Solutions Journalism Collaborative’s Making Ends Meet project. NEO SoJo is composed of 18-plus Northeast Ohio news outlets including FreshWater Cleveland.