Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) 

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Criteria to Become a CERTIFIED Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)

A minority-owned business is defined as being owned, capitalized, operated and controlled by a member of an identified minority group. The business must be a for-profit enterprise which physically resides in the United States or one of its territories.  Identified "Minority groups" are generally defined as having an ethnic background consisting of Asian, Black, Hispanic, East Asian Indian and/or Native American.  Some applications require US Citizenship; some applications accept legal residents. Some applications require a 75% ethnic heritage others will accept as little as one fourth.

Note: Non-For-Profit companies DO NOT qualify for certification.

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. Further, the management and daily operations are controlled by those minority group members.

Generally, the identified minority groups are as follows:

  • Subcontinent Asian Indian: persons with origins from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and the surrounding countries.

  • Asian Pacific Americans: persons with origins from Japan, China, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Taiwan, Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Thailand, Samoa, Guam, Burma, Singapore, Brunei, Republic of the Marshall Island, Federated States of Micronesia, Hong Kong, Fiji, Tonga, Kiribati, Tuvalu, Nauru, the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific, the Northern Marianas [Republic of Palau]
  • Black Americans: persons with origins in any of the Black racial groups of Africa.
  • Hispanic Americans: persons with origins of Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean Basin only. Brazilians should be listed under Hispanic designation for review and certification purposes.
  • Native American - A person who is an American Indian of a North American Tribe, Eskimo, Aleut or Native Hawaiian, and regarded as such by the community of which the person claims to be a part. You must provide quantifiable proof of your heritage such as a Native American Blood Degree Certificate (i.e., tribal registry letter, tribal roll register number).


Certification is done at the local or regional level. Some certification offices that certify for the private sector do charge a non-refundable application fee.  Certification must be renewed each year. Private sector certifications require an annual renewal fee as well.


Disclaimer: The following are theMINIMUMbasic requirements for certification, and in no way to guarantee your company will be a successful candidate for certification.  Additionally, each certifying agency may have additional criteria standards and eligibility rules. Other criteria and standards exist for each industry, annual sales, number of employees, etc. If you are applying to a local government entity the length of time it takes to acquire certification can vary.