Business certifications for women, minorities, and veterans can unlock new customers and revenue streams that you never knew existed.
Even so, the certification process can be confusing as there is no one-size-fits-all option. Many third-party organizations offer their own certification programs. The Small Business Administration has a separate certification process for those looking to secure government contracts.
One option is 58joralemon, a new project from our partners at Cocolevio. The 58joralemon application simplifies the process for businesses of all sizes seeking to receive certification as minority-owned, woman-owned, or veteran-owned businesses. Their single, streamlined application offers a low-cost option that is easy to navigate.
Another option is the Enhanced Digital Certification from our partners at SupplierGATEWAY. This digital certification program helps all types of diverse businesses get certified and covers SBA Small Business Self Certification requirements, making it a great option for anyone working with government clients.
But what is the right program for you and your business? Below, we answer some of your most frequently asked questions about common business certifications. For an even more in-depth explanation of each certification and the different organizations that host them, you can also view our step-by-step guides to minority small business certification, veteran-owned business certification, and woman-owned business certification.
Why should I get my business certified?
There are a few reasons to get your business certified. One is for marketing purposes. Certain customers intentionally seek out products from woman-owned businesses, for example, and certification signals that you’re the place to shop.
Certification also opens doors to supplier diversity initiatives across the public and private sectors. Many federal, state, and local government contracts require that a portion of business goes to minority and woman-owned businesses; the same goes for big corporations. You also might qualify for targeted grants or aid programs for businesses owned by women, minorities, veterans, or other groups.
Finally, many certifications include a networking aspect that allows you to connect with business owners from similar backgrounds, too. Participating in these events and conversations can lead to new business opportunities.
Can I apply for multiple certifications, or should I pick one?
Of course! If you qualify for multiple certifications, you are more than welcome to apply!
What are some popular certifying bodies?
Third-party organizations certify your business and add your business to their exclusive members’ list for a fee. Once certified, you can do business with government agencies or large corporations that are members of the certifying organization’s network.
To become certified as a woman-owned small business, you can apply through the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC), the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce, SupplierGATEWAY, and 58joralemon.
To become certified as a veteran-owned small business, you can apply through the National Veteran Owned Business Association (NaVOBA), National Veteran Business Development Council (NVBDC), SupplierGATEWAY, and 58joralemon.
To become certified as a minority-owned small business, you can apply through the National Minority Supplier Development Council, SupplierGATEWAY, and 58joralemon. You can also seek recognition from your state as a minority business enterprise.
If you are seeking recognition from the government, the Small Business Administration offers certification programs for businesses owned by women, veterans, and certain minority groups. While sometimes overlooked, these free certifications grant you access to an abundance of federal contracts.
How should I choose my certification body?
As we stated up front, there is no one-size-fits-all answer, although we suggest asking your customers. A government contracting officer, supplier diversity manager, or purchasing manager department can tell you what is required — including the preferred certification — to do business with their organization.
What are some common eligibility requirements?
The eligibility requirements vary depending on the program. In general, the requirement is that a small business is 51% owned and operated by a woman, veteran, or member of a minority group.
What’s up with the name 58joralemon, and why should I consider it?
If you go to 58 Joralemon Street in Brooklyn, New York, you’ll encounter a brownstone that is actually an elaborate facade for an MTA subway vent and emergency exit. Cocolevio sees it as a metaphor for the many minority, woman, and veteran-owned businesses that are hiding in plain sight.
We recommend 58joralemon certification to anyone looking for a low-cost ($50) process that takes as little as one week. In addition, you can apply for and manage woman-owned, veteran-owned, and minority-owned certifications in one location. This is a huge plus for anyone seeking multiple types of recognition.
What are the advantages of Enhanced Digital Certification (EDC)?
First off, your business can get Enhanced Digital Certification (EDC) in as little as a few minutes for $25. A product of the cloud-based supplier management platform SupplierGATEWAY, EDC supports thousands of suppliers in multiple industries and unlocks government opportunities through the SBA Small Business Self Certification process. If you plan to work with corporations or organizations that already use the SupplierGATEWAY platform, EDC will be a great, low-cost option. This certification recognizes minority-owned, woman-owned, veteran-owned, LGBT-owned, and disability-owned businesses.