Benefits of DBE Certification

Minority- and female-owned businesses have seen growth in their support systems, but many still need more help to succeed.

No matter who you are, if you own a small or medium business, competing with the big dogs isn’t always easy. As a woman or a minority, it can be extra challenging.

But with the right connections and certifications, it’s possible to hold your own and make a name for yourself.

By certifying your business as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) or a minority- or female-owned business, you gain access to programs and resources that can assist in growing your business.

This guide will walk you through the steps to gain DBE certification in Nevada. Then, we’ll talk about other grants you’ll be eligible to apply for after you have the essential DBE certificate.

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Certification

Man taking inventory of products in warehouse

Nevada works a bit differently than most states. To get most small business owner certifications, you first need the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certificate.

This program goes through the Nevada Department of Transportation (NDOT). It’s the only certification that the state performs.

Nevada takes their economy seriously. They link registered suppliers with other enterprises, corporations, and government entities who are looking to subcontract someone with those specific skills. By doing this, they foster economic growth for the state and help expand each registered business’s growth.

If you’re looking for a specific minority or women’s certification, don’t worry; you can still get the designations you need with this. Think of it as an alternate route to the same destination.

Once NDOT approves your DBE program certificate, they’ll process a Small Business Enterprise (SBE) certification at the same time. 


How Does Nevada Define Small Business?

Nevada’s definition of a small business is a company owned and operated by an independent person or partner.

The potential DBE owner has to employ fewer than 500 people on its staff and/or make less than $30 million (gross receipts) in its fiscal years.

But even if you qualify as a small business, you don’t get the designation that most states have as a Small Business Enterprise.


Steps to Obtain DBE Certification

To become a registered supplier, the first thing to do is to report to the DOAS that you’re a small business. After that, you can apply for DBE status.

The process is easy:

  1. Contact their Supplier Registration/Team Georgia Marketplace. Currently, they only accept phone calls. Let them know you want to start the process to register with the State’s designation.
  2. After that, head over to the DBE website and download their certification application packet. This includes a Personal Financial Statement Form. Complete the packet and send it to the address shown.
  3. The Georgia D.O.T reviews your packet to ensure you have all the supporting documents and meet the qualifications. They may ask for more documentation to make their determination.
  4. Once the packet is complete, your business will be assigned a DBE Coordinator. This person will work with you to schedule a date and time when they will perform an on-site visit.
  5. At that visit, the coordinator will verify that all the documentation you submitted is correct. If you meet the criteria at that time, you’ll get the certification designation. You won’t receive a physical certificate, but you do get an approval letter.

With the approval, the GDOT enters your business’s information in their DBE directory. You can use that link and the approval letter to apply for other certificates.


GDOT State Supported Funding Program (SSFP)

Another benefit of working with the GDOT is that you get access to state-supported funding projects. The DOT program prepares its DBE-certified businesses to prime contractors, encouraging more successful contracts, and thus more work for Georgia’s business owners.

No matter which category your company falls in as a DBE, the state provides you with resources like:

  • Individual assistance as you apply for an SSFP project, helping through each step of the application process
  • Access to the state’s Meeting Space to conduct interviews with contractors and bidders
  • An expert to review your plan before you submit it
  • Use of the GDOT’s computers to fill out and print applications or complete routine internet research for available SSFP projects
  • Training in how to submit bids, obtain contracts, and maximize your potential as a subcontractor

Because your business’s success brings funding to the state, it’s in Georgia’s best interest to help you. As a DBE, you automatically have access to these resources, as well as other resources designed for disadvantaged businesses.


National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)

After you’ve been approved as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, you can apply for a national Minority Business Entity certificate. This links your business with the Western Regional Minority Supplier Development Council (WRMSDC).

Connecting with the WRMSDC is a huge deal. It’s a business opportunity with massive potential. You’ll be a visible part of the network of major supply chains in the state and country.

When you have an “in” with corporate supply chains, you get some of the first dibs on bidding on contracts. Your company can develop relationships with corporations and governments that want to work with MBE-qualified business partners.


Benefits of MBE Certification

The MBE certificate and its connection to the WRMSDC give disadvantaged business owners a lot of benefits.

Some of the largest corporations in Nevada use the WRMSDC’s database to find diverse suppliers before they look elsewhere. If your business is certified as an MBE, you can build relationships directly with the decision-makers of major enterprises.

As a prime contractor listed in the database, you have access to procurement opportunities other businesses don’t.

There are specific contractor openings that are only available to suppliers with the MBE certification. It’s a small part of their members-only benefit program.

Other features that only members have access to include networking events, leadership roles in the state, and potential participation in committees in your industry. No matter what type of work you do, these are good opportunities.

The MBE certification is recognized around the country, so your network and benefits extend throughout the entire United States.


How to Qualify for MBE Certification

Qualifications for the MBE certificate are similar to those of the DBE. The majority of ownership must be held by a qualifying ethnic-minority who is a U.S. citizen. The business must be run and controlled by the same minority owner(s).

The highest executive position in the company must be held by the ethnic-minority owner. The business must be a for-profit organization headquartered in the State of Nevada.

If all this sounds like your company, you can start the certification process:

  1. Register for and attend the pre-certification informational session.
  2. Complete the application you receive, including all requested documentation.
  3. Once your application is reviewed and approved by the WRMSDC, a representative will contact you to coordinate a site visit.
  4. After the site visit, a certification committee and board will review your business’s details and determine approval status.

Upon notification of approval, you’ll schedule an orientation with the MBE and begin engaging with the group. The advantages begin!

Greater Women’s Business Council

One woman standing next to another woman sitting. Both women are laughing and smiling.

As a woman-owned enterprise in Nevada with a DBE certificate, you are eligible to apply to become part of the Greater Women’s Business Council (GWBC). This national organization focuses on supporting and growing women-owned businesses.

This certification’s eligibility criteria are similar to those of the MBE. Majority ownership must be held by at least one woman with U.S. citizenship, who must control and manage the business without restrictions.

A woman must hold the highest defined title in the company. There must be documented evidence that she contributed through capital or with experience in the industry.

The owner’s personal net worth and business revenue must be disclosed during your application process.


Benefits of GWBC

As with the MBE, the advantages of having a connection with the GWBC are extensive.

Your business will have access to various benefits, including:

  • Procurement opportunities with major corporations at the local, state, and federal levels
  • Business openings for contracting and subcontracting with corporations, governments, and WBENC-certified, women-owned businesses
  • Invitations to attend networking events and programs for education purposes, business opportunities, and business development
  • Access to tools and resources to grow your business and reach your contract goals, as well as technical assistance
  • Permission to use the Women-Owned Logo and/or Women’s Business Enterprise Seal to market your business

In addition to these perks, you have community support from professional women like yourself.


How to Get a GWBC Certification

The GWBC application process is completed online through a tool called WBENCLink2.0. There’s a non-refundable application processing fee that you’ll have to pay via credit card or check when you apply.

Anything you enter on WBENCLink2.0 is visible to all corporations and governments with access to the database.

When you log in to the system, you’ll create an account that will also be the database you use for all your WBENC documentation. After you’re approved, you’ll house any certificates, records, and other information here.

To register, you must use the female owner’s email address, which will also become your username. You can complete the application in any order, but you must submit it within 90 days.

The status bar at the top of the page shows you how much you’ve already done. Make sure you “Save Draft” as you go.

Remember, you can’t make any changes after you submit your application. Take your time and be sure everything is accurate. Use the checklist they provide to ensure you’ve attached all documentation. Incomplete forms will delay your approval.

Once you submit your application, you’ll hear from the WBENC. They’ll schedule a site visit, and if all goes well, you’ll be approved as a business member.

Federal Certifications

Nevada has impressive state-wide programs for disadvantaged business owners.

Why stop there, though, when you have access to federal certifications, too?

Once you get your DBE certification, check out the options you have for federal grants and networking:


Federal Grants

Those who qualify may be eligible for government grants through the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA). This federal government branch provides financial assistance to MBDA businesses.

For instance, if your business is relevant to the transportation industry, there are discretionary grant programs offered by the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT). These grants supply funds to improve various types of public transportation.

Related: 5+ Federal Grants for Women Entrepreneurs


Federal Contract Opportunities

Federal contract opportunities give you a chance to partner with the federal government on a range of projects.

These are equal opportunity listings. Anyone who wants to work for the government can access the system and choose which notices of procurement to receive.

Businesses with the DBE certification may be able to obtain contracts before the posting is visible to other entities.


Small Business Administration

SBA funding is available to businesses with a Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) certification.

If you already have a DBE designation in Georgia, you may be able to avoid the extensive paperwork with the SBA. However, you are only eligible to skip the paperwork if the state has the same or stricter qualification guidelines (regarding size standards, etc.).

If you qualify, you may be able to access one or more of the SBA’s multiple disadvantaged business programs. These programs offer additional funding and procurement opportunities for minority subcontractors.

Before you can apply for any federal programs, you’ll need to know your NAICS code. Short for the North American Industry Classification System, this number is used across the federal government to classify businesses according to specific industries.

If you can’t put your finger on this number right away, it’s easy to find at In the search feature, use specific keywords that describe your business. Then, choose the business code from the list provided for you that most closely matches your services.

Things To Avoid Doing During Your Certification Process

The benefits of gaining a business certification for women and minorities are almost endless. Because of the potential for lucrative connections and grants, it’s tempting to bend the qualification rules.

But those in charge of these applications know what to look for, and they’ve seen it all.

Some red flags will quickly nix your chances of approval, including:

1. A Male-or Non-Minority-Owned Business Giving Majority Control to a Spouse in Order To Qualify

Remember that the owner must have non-restricted control and operate in daily activities. During the on-site interview with the owner, it will be clear whether they know how to run the business or not.

2. Freely Giving Ownership of Shares to a Woman or Minority

Part of the requirements for certification states that the owner must offer a contribution, either monetary or through something else of value.

In a nutritional supplement business, for instance, someone with a medical background is essential. But if the would-be owner doesn’t have the funds to invest, their knowledge may be seen as the contribution in place of capital.

Occasionally, a business owner looking for a grant will try to get around this. They’ll give a majority share of ownership to a woman or minority who has nothing to do with the company.

However, if none of these contributions are linked with the “owner,” the application will likely be flagged.

3. Not Waiting Long Enough Before Reapplying

Waiting less than one year to reapply after a denial (unless otherwise instructed) isn’t in your best interest. Chances are, it’s going to get denied again. You’ll have to wait a year after the most recent denial before you can resubmit your documentation.