There are a variety of programs to help diverse groups of business owners procure work from government and private entities. For the record, the business registration process for women, minority, and service-disabled veterans does not differ from the standard process all businesses follow. You still need to register your business, obtain pertinent certificates, licenses and permits in order to legally operate.
While the designations are not necessary, applying for these designations can provide a wealth of additional opportunity for your business both in the government and private sectors. Certain government contracts are set aside for businesses with these designations on the federal and state levels.
For more information on how to become eligible for set-aside federal government contracts, see this guide from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on Government Contracting Certification: www.sba.gov/content/register-government-contracting.
In addition to the federal government, New Jersey state government offers a wide variety of opportunities for small businesses to compete for government contracts. The state’s Business Portal can provide business with information on procuring government contracts: www.nj.gov/njbusiness/contracting.
It is important to note that this application process is a large time investment. Requirements are very stringent and must be met entirely at the time of the application. Start the process as soon as possible! If you think you may want to get certified in the future, it is advisable that you create a binder when your company is young and start storing all the necessary documents—such as your incorporation paperwork—for the application processes.
Service Disabled Veteran Owned Business (SDVOB) eligibility
In order to be eligible for the Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business Concern Program (SDVOSBC), the Service Disabled Veteran (SDV) must have a service-connected disability that has been determined by the Department of Veterans Affairs or Department of Defense. Your business must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by a SDV—and the SDV must hold the highest officer position in the SDVOSBC.
For more information on eligibility and the application process for this program, visit: www.sba.gov/sdvosb.
Woman-owned small business eligibility
To be eligible, your business must be at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women. The women must be U.S. citizens. The business must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry.
For more information on eligibility and the application process for this program, visit: www.sba.gov/content/women-owned-small-business-program.
Minority-owned business eligibility
Some minority groups are presumed to be socially and economically disadvantaged and can qualify for the 8(a) program. These groups include: African Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Alaska Native Corporations, Indian Tribes, Native Hawaiian Organizations and Community Development Corporations, Asian Pacific Americans and Subcontinent Asian Americans.
Individuals who are not members of one or more of these groups can be considered for the 8(a) program, but they must provide substantial evidence and documentation that demonstrate they have been subjected to bias or discrimination and are economically disadvantaged.
For more information on eligibility and the application process for this program, visit: www.sba.gov/content/minority-owned-businesses.
In addition to working with government agencies, you can register your business with non-government organizations and certification agencies. Each certification body offers different benefits for those who qualify, including business fairs, networking opportunities, training programs, financing options and more.
For example, the Minority Business Development Agency directs minority business owners to the National Minority Supplier Development Council where they can register their business as a certified minority-owned business and take advantage of the benefits.
Mariama Bramble is a contributor to the SBA’s blog which can be found at www.sba.gov/blogs.