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As the United States continues to become more inclusive, the retail industry has an opportunity to support and drive this cultural shift. Studies show that the makeup of the U.S. is increasingly diverse and customers are increasingly interested in purchasing from companies who are run by minorities and women. Statistics below help paint the current landscape: 

  • Minorities make up 37% of the population 
  • Women 51% of the population
  • Minorities are the majority in 6 of the 8 largest metropolitan areas of the United States
  • Minority-owned firms (MBEs) constitute 21% of all U.S. businesses
  • Women-owned firms (WBEs) constitute 28% of all U.S. businesses

                                                                                       ---  2007 Survey of Business Owners (SBO)

A M/WBE (Minority/Women Owned Business Enterprise) is a for-profit enterprise, regardless of size, physically located in the United States or its trust territories, which is owned, operated and controlled by minority group members.  "Minority group members" are United States citizens who are Asian, Black, Hispanic, Native American, and/or female. Ownership by minority individuals means the business is at least 51% owned by such individuals or, in the case of a publicly-owned business, at least 51% of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals. Additionally, the management and daily operations are controlled by those minority group members. 

The National Minority Supplier Development Council defines a minority group member as an individual who is a U.S. citizen with at least 1/4 or 25% minimum of the following (documentation to support claim of 25% is required from the applicant):

  • Asian-Indian - A U.S. citizen whose origins are from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh
  • Asian-Pacific - A U.S. citizen whose origins are from Japan, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, the Philippines, Thailand, Samoa, Guam, the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific or the Northern Marianas
  • Black - A U.S. citizen having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa
  • Hispanic - A U.S. citizen of true-born Hispanic heritage, from any of the Spanish-speaking areas of the following regions: Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean Basin only.  Brazilians are listed under Hispanic designation for review and certification purposes
  • Native American - A person who is an American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut or Native Hawaiian, and regarded as such by the community of which the person claims to be a part.  Native Americans must be documented members of a North American tribe, band or otherwise organized group of native people who are indigenous to the continental United States and proof can be provided through a Native American Blood Degree Certificate (i.e., tribal registry letter, tribal roll register number)

Becoming certified as a women-owned or minority-owned business provides you visiblity to Retailers who are looking to support equal opporutnity retail.

  • Certification validates credibility of the company
  • Certification is required to participate in programs that track the amount of dollars spent with M/WBE companies
  • Certification is the only way retailers have confidence that a company that claims M/WBE status is, in fact, an M/WBE

Key Benefits to Suppliers

  • Increases opportunities for minorities and women to participate in the supply chain by ensuring them an equal opportunity to provide products and services
  • Develops suppliers with whom Wholesaler/Retailers can build long-term relationships that are mutually beneficial
  • Prohibits discrimination against persons or businesses on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, national origin, or other protected status
  • Contributes to the economic viability of M/WBE's and the communities in which they are located
  • Better reflects the demographics of the markets in which the retailer operates

Additional Information

  • Certification is done at the local or regional level
  • Certification must be renewed each year along with payment of an annual fee
  • Certification is not based on company size, number of employees or profitability


"In a survey of 1,227 women consumers between the ages of 35-55, an overwhelming 79% said knowing a company buys from women-owned businesses would compel them to try a company's product or services if they were not a current customer. Furthermore, 51% of respondents said a company's support for women-owned businesses is even worth a mulligan if the product or service misses the mark the first time. In addition, 81% said awareness of a company's mission to buy from women-owned businesses would moderately or significantly solidify their brand loyalty." (

    To become a certified minority or woman-owned business (M/WBE), businesses must satisfy the following:

    • All prospective members must provide clear and documented evidence that at least 51% or more of the business is women- or minority-owned, managed, and controlled
    • The business must be open for at least six months
    • The business owner must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident alien

    Evidence must indicate that:

    • The contribution of capital and/or expertise by the minority/woman business owner is real and substantial, and in proportion to the interest owned
    • The minority/woman business owner must direct or cause the direction of management, fiscal policy, and operational matters
    • The minority/woman business owner shall have the ability to perform in the area of specialty or expertise without reliance on either the finances or resources of a firm that is not owned by a minority/woman

    National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC)

    1359 Broadway, Tenth Floor
    New York, New York 10018

    • The primary objective of The National Minority Supplier Development Council is to provide a direct link between corporate America and minority-owned businesses.  One of the country's leading business membership organizations, it was chartered in 1972 to provide increased procurement and business opportunities for minority businesses of all sizes.  In addition to its major conference in the fall, NMSDC also offers trade fairs in most states to provide training and educational programming throughout the year.

    Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

    1120 Connecticut Avenue, NW
    Suite 1000
    Washington, DC, 20036

    • WBENC is the nation's leading third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women and the leading advocate of women's business enterprises (WBEs) as suppliers to corporate America.

    United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC)

    1424 K Street NW, Suite 401
    Washington, DC 20005

    • Through its network of more than 200 local Hispanic Chambers of Commerce and Hispanic business organizations, the USHCC communicates the needs and potential of Hispanic enterprise to the public and private sector through legislation, policies and national programs, as well as promoting international trade and implementing and strengthening national programs that assist the economic development of Hispanic firms.

    National Hispanic Corporate Council (NHCC)

    1555 Wilson Boulevard, Suite. 510
    Arlington, VA  22209

    • NHCC provides and fosters professional networks by maximizing the Hispanic market opportunity among Fortune 1000 corporations and Standard & Poor's (S&P) 500 companies.

    United States Pan Asian-American Chamber of Commerce (USPAACC)

    1329 18th Street, NW
    Washington, DC 20036

    • The US Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce (USPAACC) was formed in 1984 and is a national, non-profit organization representing all Asian Americans and Asian American-related groups in business, sciences, the arts, sports, education and public and community services.

    National Veteran's Owned Business Association (NaVOBA)
    429 Mill Street
    Coraopolis. PA 15108
    412.424.0164 x122

    • The National Veteran's Owned Business Association has been the voice for the veteran-owned business movement since its inception in 2007.  NaVOBA serves to unify the movement by providing leadership and research and providing community advocates with assistance in governmental lobbying.  NaVOBA continues to advance the message to corporate America to "Buy Veteran."

    National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC)

    1612 U Street, NW Suite 408
    Washington, DC 20009

    • The National Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) expands economic opportunities for LGBT-owned and friendly businesses. NGLCC invests in the future of LGBT (Gay/Lesbian/Bisexual/Transsexual and Transgender) business causes through advocacy and by offering workshops, certification and networking.

    Small Business Administration (SBA) 

    409 3rd Street, SW
    Washington, DC 20416

    • The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of the United States.  The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses.  Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

    Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC)
    95 Berkeley Street

    Second Floor
    Toronto, ON
    M5A 2W8

    • Canadian Aboriginal and Minority Supplier Council (CAMSC) is a non-profit organization; composed of major multinational corporations operating in Canada.  CAMSC provides certification for both Aboriginal and visible minority owned businesses in addition to delivering programs and process to facilitate procurement opportunities between major corporations in Canada and suppliers of all sizes.  CAMSC is associated with National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) in the United States.

    WEConnect Canada

    1120 Connecticut Avenue, NW
    Suite 1000
    Washington, DC, 20036

    • WEConnect Canada is a Canadian non-profit organization that certifies firms that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by women and connects them with corporations and the public sector.  The organization is affiliated with the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) in the United States.