Running a Small Business: Minority or Women Owned Businesses - Does Your Small Business Qualify and What is the Certification Process?

27 Jun
Minority or Women Owned Business

Did you know obtaining a Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprise (MWBE) Certification could help you grow your business? Government agencies and national corporations are always looking to work with MWBE certified businesses. In this article, we will walk you through the benefits of being certified and the certification process for Minority Owned Businesses and Women-Owned Businesses located in the state of New York.


MWBE Certification Benefits

As a business owner, we recognize your time is valuable and needs to be spent wisely. The time and energy spent on exploring and ultimately obtaining your Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprise Certification is well worth your while. Do not overlook this business certification when exploring ways to increase visibility and business opportunities. Some benefits of obtaining the MWBE Certification include:

  1. Your business listed in the public Directory of Certified Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprises. This directory can be searched by your business name, business description, contact person, location, and industry, just to name a few ways interested parties can search for you.
  1. Opportunities for contracting and subcontracting with the public and private sector looking to support minority or women owned businesses. Opportunities exist with state agencies, public authorities, federal agencies, and corporations.
  1. Workshops, seminars, and networking events are available through a variety of outlets and at no cost to you.
  1. Access to capital through special capital programs from Small Business Administration and Community Development Financial Institutions. Reasons to certify as a Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprise


MWBE Certification Process


  • To qualify as a Woman Owned Business (WBE), you need to have at least fifty-one percent (51%) of the business owned, operated and controlled by citizens or resident aliens who are women.
  • To qualify as a Minority Owned Business (MBE), you need to have at least fifty-one percent (51%) of the business owned, operated and controlled by citizens or permanent resident aliens who meet the ethnic definitions listed below.




Persons having origins from any of the Black African racial groups.


Persons of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Dominican, Cuban, Central or South American descent of either Native American or Latin American origin, regardless of race.


Persons having origins from the Far East, Southeast Asia or the Pacific Islands.

Asian-Indian Subcontinent

Persons having origins from the Indian subcontinent.

Native American or Alaskan Native

Persons having origins in any of the original peoples of North America.


To qualify for New York State Certification as a Minority Owned Business or Women-Owned Business, your business must show it has been selling products or services for a period of at least one year prior to the date of the application. MWBE qualifications as spelled out on the Empire State Development website include:

  • All firms seeking MBE, WBE or MWBE certification must be independently owned, operated and controlled by minority members and/or women.
  • The ownership must be real, substantial and continuing, and the minority members and/or women must exercise the authority to independently control the day-to-day business decisions.
  • Each minority or woman owner upon whom certification is based, cannot have a personal net worth exceeding $3.5 Million after allowable deductions. These are allowable deductions under the law:
      • Primary residence or the mortgage for that residence.
      • Ownership interest in the applicant firm.
      • Up to $500,000 of any qualified retirement savings plan.
  • There are three mandatory supporting documents for each minority or woman owner upon which certification is based, they include:

    1. Current Personal Federal and State Taxes (including all schedules, statements and amendments)
    2. Personal Net Worth Affidavit (signed, notarized and dated) Use to determine your personal net worth, instructions are provided below.
    3. Auto Calculation Net Worth Worksheet Worksheet Instructions
  • Firms must have no more than 300 full time equivalent employees.
  • The firm must operate independently of other firms, must demonstrate it is an active business and generally, the business must be in operation for at least one year.
  • Out of state applicants should be certified as a MWBE in their home state, if a similar process exists, before applying for MWBE certification in New York State. 
  • In a nutshell, MWBE Certification has its benefits. Many Minority Owned Businesses and Women-Owned Businesses have grown their bottom line by obtaining their MWBE Certification. Do your homework and invest the time to determine if this business certification is a fit for you.

For additional information on navigating MWBE Certification process, please click here.



About Excelsior Growth Fund

Excelsior Growth Fund (EGF) helps businesses in New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania grow by providing streamlined access to business loans and advisory services. EGF’s signature product, the EGF SmartLoan™, provides up to $100,000 in fast, transparent, and affordable financing through a secure online platform. Larger loans up to $500,000 are also available. EGF is a nonprofit organization and is certified by U.S. Department of Treasury as a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI). Learn more