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Minority and Women Entrepreneurs

The New York SBDC provides services to strengthen the small business community and promote economic growth throughout the state. The SBDC provides services to all small business populations, including special emphasis groups such as women, minorities, Native Americans, 8(a) firms in all stages, veterans and service-connected disabled veterans, reservists called to active duty, people with disabilities, individuals currently and formerly receiving public assistance, individuals in low -and moderate- income urban and rural areas, and individuals located in Empowerment Zones and HUB Zones.

The services provided by the SBDC are available to all citizens on a non-discriminatory basis, and are tailored to the local community and the needs of individual clients. The SBDCs make special efforts to reach members of socially and economically disadvantaged groups, members of ethnic communities, women and the disabled.

8(a) and Minority & Women Business Enterprise Certification

Small businesses with 8(a) or Minority Women Business certification can take advantage of opportunities that level the playing field within the private and public sector. With certification, minority and women-owned firms capable of producing quality products and services at competitive prices have a more competitive position. Neither 8(a) nor MWBE certification is a guarantee for business, but if used as a marketing tool, can generate more opportunities to bid for business.

The US Small Business Administration has a number of programs to assist small businesses. SBA’s goal with the 8(a) and minority business certification programs is to teach 8(a) and other small companies how to compete in the Federal contracting arena and how to take advantage of greater subcontracting opportunities available from large firms as the result of public-private partnerships.

8(a) Business Development

The SBA's 8(a) Business Development program is intended to help small disadvantaged businesses compete in the American economy, access the federal procurement market, and be successful for the future. Companies like yours, just starting or in a growth stage, can benefit from the wide-range of services we offer—support for government contractors, access to capital, management and technical assistance, and export assistance—just to name a few. We accomplish our goal by building community-based small businesses, which in turn revitalizes neighborhoods, creates jobs, and encourages economic growth.

How does a business apply to participate in the 8(a) program? Contact the local SBA district office in your area. An SBA representative will answer general questions over the telephone. Some district offices may also have 8(a) orientation workshops to provide additional information regarding the eligibility requirements and various SBA forms.

What are the basic requirements an 8(a) applicant firm must meet? The firm applying to the program must be a small business; must be unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more socially and economically disadvantaged individuals who are of good character and citizens of the United States; and must demonstrate potential for success.

What are the benefits of the program to a small business owner?

  • 8(a) participant businesses can receive sole-source contracts, up to a ceiling of $3 million for goods and services and $5 million for manufacturing. While SBA helps 8(a) firms build their competitive and institutional know-how, the agency also encourages them to participate in competitive acquisitions.
  • Federal acquisition policies encourage Federal agencies to award a certain percentage of their contracts to small and disadvantaged (8a) businesses. To speed up the award process, the SBA has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with 25 Federal agencies allowing them to contract directly with certified 8(a) firms.
  • Recent changes permit 8(a) firms to form joint ventures and teams to bid on contracts. This enhances the ability of 8(a) firms to perform larger prime contracts and overcome the effects of contract bundling, the combining of two or more contracts together into one large contract.

Learn more about the 8(a) Business Development program and find contracting support for small businesses from the SBA.

Mentor-Protégé Program

The SBA implemented the Mentor-Protégé Program to allow starting 8(a) companies to learn the ropes from experienced businesses. The program enhances the capability of 8(a) participants to compete more successfully for federal government contracts.  The program encourages private-sector relationships and expands SBA’s efforts to identify and respond to the developmental needs of 8(a) clients. Mentors provide technical and management assistance, financial assistance in the form of equity investments and/or loans, subcontract support, and assistance in performing prime contracts through joint venture arrangements with 8(a) firms.

Minority and Women Business Enterprise Certification - New York State

The minority and women-owned business program at Empire State Development (ESD) is designed to assist the growth and development of businesses owned and controlled by women and minority groups.  An important activity of the program is to increase the participation of those businesses in the procurement activities of NYS. An ongoing, independent business owned, operated or controlled by minority-group members and/or women is eligible for certification. The ownership must be real, substantial, and continuing.

New York State's Division of Minority - and Women-owned Business Development (MWBD) helps the state's minority and women's business community to access all the services offered by Empire State Development (ESD). ESD can provide:

  • Access to Capital - access to ESD and other financial assistance for established businesses, leveraging capital to achieve the best results at a lower cost; and low-cost financial assistance for minority- and women-owned businesses that are unable to access traditional financial services.
  • Minority - and Women-owned Business Certification - administers and offers lists of New York State MWBD firms to interested prime contractors to use in realizing sub- contracting goals.
  • Minority - and women-owned Procurement Assistance – guidance on specialized selling opportunities to state and federal government agencies.

Learn more about ESD’s program and find out how to become certified.