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All You Need to Know About Becoming a Diverse-Owned Certified Business in Michigan

Diverse-owned business certifications help businesses that are owned by groups historically left out of the supply chain gain access to more opportunities and grow. The goal of these certifications is to create equity in the business community, so Black-owned, veteran-owned, and other minority-owned businesses have just as good of a chance to succeed and grow as majority-owned businesses. This reason is why getting certified as a diverse-owned business is one of the most important things a business owner can do.

Benefits of Getting Certified as a Diverse-Owned Business

1. Opportunities: Being certified makes your company more attractive to potential buyers. Both corporations and the government are looking to do business with Black-owned, minority-owned, women-owned, and other diverse-owned businesses, but you need to be certified to qualify for those contracts.

2. Connections: Joining a certified organization opens doors to make connections to both other diverse-owned businesses and the corporations who want to support them. These face-to-face and virtual opportunities, such as conferences, trade fairs, and networking luncheons connect you and your company with potential buyers, mentors, friends, and advocates.

3. Resources: Being certified through a diversity advocacy organization grants you access to numerous resources including databases, pitch competitions, grants, and educational opportunities. It’s one of the most important things a diverse supplier can do to help their business, as you must be certified by an appropriate third party to be considered a diverse supplier. It not only grants visibility to your business but makes your company more attractive to corporations.

How to Get Certified as a Diverse-Owned Business

To be considered for a diverse-owned business certification, your business should be at least 51% owned by a woman, minority, veteran, or person with a disability. There are several organizations created out of a need to level the playing field for businesses too often left out of the procurement process. They provide certification to qualifying businesses that provide required documentation and fees, which differ with each group.

Where to Get Certified as a Diverse-Owned Business in Michigan

  • The Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council (MMSDC) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) organization committed to driving economic growth within minority communities. It is a part of the larger National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), which has a network of 12,000 minority-owned businesses and 1,400 large corporate members and holds a lot of weight in the government industry. To apply for an MMSDC certificate, visit https://minoritysupplier.org/for-mbes/mbe-certification/. The application process can take up to 90 days, including the pre-certification briefing, online application, and site interview.
  • The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) dedicated to helping women-owned businesses thrive. WBENC is the largest certifier of women-owned businesses in the United States (more than 1,000 corporations accept it) with 14 Regional Partner Organizations who are also able to issue the certification. To apply for a WBE certificate, visit https://www.wbenc.org/certification/apply-now-for-wbenc-certification/.
  • The Great Lakes Women’s Business Council, operating out of Michigan and Indiana, is one of WBENC’s regional partners. GLWBC has trained over 15,000 business owners and entrepreneurs in the region, certified 1,400 women-owned businesses, and worked with 90+ corporate members. To apply for a Women’s Business Enterprise certificate through the GLWBC, visit https://www.greatlakeswbc.org/certification/get-certified/. The process starts with a certification orientation seminar and includes an online application and site interview.
  • Disability:IN is a nonprofit resource for business disability inclusion around the world. It has a network of more than 220 corporate partners, 27 affiliates, and alliances with other diverse groups—all of which serve as a collective voice to effect change for people with disabilities in business. Disability:IN’s DOBE, or disability-owned business enterprises, certification is nationally recognized, including by the Billion Dollar Roundtable. It provides many benefits for those certified and for corporations who work with them. To apply for a DOBE, V-DOBE, or SDV-DOBE certificate, visit https://disabilityin.org/what-we-do/supplier-diversity/. The process includes an online application and site interview.
  • National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC) is a veteran-owned business certification organization that recognizes small, medium, and large businesses in the U.S. Its NVBDC/VOB certification is accepted by the Billion Dollar Roundtable. To apply for a Veteran Owned Business Certificate, visit https://nvbdc.org/certification-landing-page/. The process includes an online application and site interview. Businesses that have a diverse-owned certification already can qualify for the VOB certificate in 30 days through the fast track. For businesses without an existing certification, the process can take up to 60 days after the application and required documents are submitted.
  • National LGBT Chamber of Commerce is the only national advocacy organization dedicated to expanding economic opportunities for the LGBT business community around the world. It is the exclusive third-party certifying body for Certified LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE) companies. Over one-third of Fortune 500 companies recognize its LGBT-Owned Business Enterprise Certification. In addition to the LGBTBE certificate, the Chamber also has specific task forces and initiatives for transgender and non-binary business owners and LGBT business owners of color. To apply for the LGBTBE certificate, visit https://www.nglcc.org/get-certified. The process includes creating an online business profile, submitting supporting documents, completing a site visit, and getting accepted by the National Certification Committee.
  • The Michigan Unified Certification Program (MUCP) is responsible for Disadvantaged Business Enterprises (DBE) and Airport Concessionaire Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) certification in the state of Michigan. The program gives diverse-owned businesses the opportunity to do one-stop-shopping for transportation DBE certifications in the State of Michigan.
  • Businesses can submit an application for certification to one of the three certifying agencies (Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT), Wayne County, and Detroit Department of Transportation (DDOT)) and undergo one review to achieve DBE status. If approved, the company will become eligible to work on any federally funded airport, highway, or transit contract as a DEB/ACDBE. Businesses can apply for certification with MDOT online here. To apply for certification through Wayne County or DDOT, contact either location to learn how to apply through their organizations. Find their contact information here.
  • The Detroit Business Opportunity Program (DBOP) annually certifies and recertifies a variety of businesses, including Minority-Owned Business Enterprises (MBE) and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (WBE). Certain qualifications through DBOP will qualify businesses for appreciation events, networking and capacity-building opportunities, equalization credits, and visibility on their online business register. To certify as an MBE or WBE under DBOP, visit https://detroitmi.gov/departments/civil-rights-inclusion-opportunity-department/detroit-business-opportunity-program.