Frequently Asked Questions
  1. What is a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)?

    An MBE is a for-profit enterprise, regardless of size, physically located in the United States or its trust territories, which is owned, controlled and managed by minority group members. “Minority group members” are U.S. citizens who are African-American, Latino-American, Native American, Asian-Pacific American or Asian-Indian American by birth and bloodline. “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, those minority group members control the governance of the business and manage its daily business operations.

  2. What is MBE Certification?

    MBE certification is the process by which the minority ownership status of a business is validated by the FSMSDC and its Certification Committee. The Committee determines, pursuant to the policies of the NMSDC, whether the approved business is owned, operated and controlled by person(s) who is determined to be a minority group member. FSMSDC certification is in accordance with NMSDC guidelines.

  3. What are the benefits of certification for an MBE?
    • Validation of MBE status
    • Opportunities to Sales and Marketing
    • Access to Mentor-Protégé Program
    • Access to Educational Programs
    • Business Advisory Services
    • Financial assistance and support
    • National/International Market Access
  4. How does a corporation benefit by doing business with a certified MBE?
    • Cost effective
    • Opportunity to identify potential strategic partners
    • Expanding customer base/market share
    • Access to emerging markets in urban and global markets
    • Compliance with governmental requirements
    • Contribution to the economic viability of MBEs and the communities in which they are located
    • Assurance of NMSDC/FSMSDC certification quality and stringent requirements
  5. Who is eligible to apply for certification as an MBE?

    For purposes of National Minority Supplier Development Council’s (NMSDC) program, a minority group member is an individual who is a U.S. citizen with at least 1/4 or 25% minimum ownership (documentation to support claim of 25% required from applicant) and is a person whose bloodline reflects an indigenous heritage from the following countries:

    • African-American – A U.S. citizen having origins in any of the Black racial groups of sub-Saharan Africa. These countries include the following: Angola, Benin, Botswana, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mauritius, Mozambique, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sao Tome & Principe, Senegal, Seychelles, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Swaziland, Tanzania, Togo, Tunisia, Uganda, Western Sahara, Zambia, Zimbabwe. Afro-Caribbean descendants are also eligible.
    • Latin-American – A U.S. citizen of trueborn Latin heritage from any of the Spanish speaking areas of the following regions: Mexico, Central America, South America and the Caribbean basin only. (Afro-Brazilian, indigenous/Indian only). These countries include the following: Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama, Guatemala, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Belize, and Nicaragua.
    • Native American – A person who is an American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut or native Hawaiian. Native Americans must be documented members of a North American tribe, band or organized group of native people who are indigenous to the United States. Proof must be provided.
    • Asian, Asian Indian and Pacific Islander American – A U. S. citizen whose origins are from the Asian Pacific Islander region. These countries include Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, Guam, India, Indonesia, Japan, Korea, Laos, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Samoa, Thailand, Taiwan, the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific or the Northern Marianas and Vietnam.

    Being born in one of the countries listed above DOES NOT, by itself, qualify an individual as an ethnic minority.

  6. What groups are NOT eligible for certification?

    Groups not certifiable are those whose origins or heritage are of or from:

    • Iberian Peninsula (Spain, Portugal)
    • Asia Minor Region (peninsula between the Black Sea & the Mediterranean)
    • Persian Gulf (Iran, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, etc.)
    • Europe
    • Northern Africa (Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Algeria, etc.)
  7. What is the arbritration clause?



    The arbitration shall take place in Miami-Dade County, Florida.  In the event this agreement to arbitrate is found to be invalid and/or unenforceable for any reason whatsoever, any and all claims arising out of the MBE certification process shall be brought in a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of Florida, Miami-Dade County judicial district, and shall be tried without a jury.

  8. Do you certify parent/holding companies?

    As a general rule, NMSDC does not certify holding companies. Further, for the purposes of certification, NMSDC does not certify brands. The Council may certify such a subsidiary only if there is cumulatively fifty-one percent (51%) ownership of the subsidiary by minorities.

  9. Do you certify joint ventures?

    For certification purposes, a joint venture (JV) is an MBE(s) with one or more partners (sole proprietorships, corporations, LLC/LLP, Partnership or any combination thereof) formed to carry on a single for-profit business activity, which may be varied in its scope or duration. Because it consists of enterprises brought together, a joint venture can be certified. This is not applicable to a joint venture between an MBE and a non-ethnic-minority individual(s). MBE applicants, on both sides of the JV, must already be NMSDC certified businesses. The JV represents an expansion of the existing MBEs' business plans -- not a first-time applicant for certification. A joint venture relationship must result in the creation of an independently chartered legal entity (or firm) which then can be documented as meeting NMSDC's certification criteria.

  10. What is the NMSDC?

    The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) is one of the country’s leading business membership organizations that provides a direct link between corporate America and Minority-Owned Businesses. The NMSDC was chartered in 1972 to provide increased procurement and business opportunities for minority businesses of all sizes.

  11. What is the cost of MBE Certification?

    A NON-REFUNDABLE processing fee based on gross annual sales is assessed for all certifications.

    Gross sales of $1 Million and under$300
    Gross sales above $1 Million and less than $5 Million$475
    Gross sales of $5 Million but less than $10 Million$625
    Gross sales of $10 Million and above$800
  12. What qualifies me to become MBE-certified by the FSMSDC?
    • A minimum of 51% of the company must be owned by an ethnic minority or group of minorities.
    • Day-to-day operation and management control must be in the hands of the minority owner(s).
    • The owner(s) must be a U.S. Citizen. Green card holders/resident aliens are not eligible for certification.
    • The company headquarters must be located in the State of Florida.
  13. What is the Certification Process?
    1. Applicants must complete the Pre-qualification and Certification application. CLICK HERE and select Certification Application.
    2. Upon completion of the application, all required documents must be uploaded and payment submitted at the end of the application process.
    3. The Certification Specialist will review the file to ensure all required documents are received and within the standards of the NMSDC.
    4. A site visit is conducted upon completion of the file.
    5. The file will be presented before the Certification Committee on the third Wednesday of the month.
    6. Newly approved MBEs will also be required to attend the New MBE Orientation to learn more about the Council, the benefits, programs and services and receive the certificate.

    NOTE: All applications left in draft for 30 days will be automatically deleted from the system.

  14. What is a Site Visit?

    A site visit is a physical tour and on-site interview with your company’s owner(s), conducted by the Council’s Certification Specialist, at the company’s physical address.

  15. How long is certification valid?

    The certification is valid for one year and must be renewed each year.

  16. How long will it take to become certified?

    The certification process takes approximately 60-90 days to complete. Note: All applications must be completed and received by the FSMSDC within 30 days of the confirmation of your pre-qualification.

  17. Am I required to complete every item in the application?

    Yes, all items applicable to your company must be completed on the application. Additionally, all required documents must be uploaded prior to submission of the application. If in doubt, contact your assigned Certification Specialist.

  18. What are MBE Premium Subscription Services?

    MBE Subscription Services is for certified MBEs of affiliate NMSDC Councils. The Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) Premium Subscription is a select add-on that provides a multitude of value-added services for MBEs. The MBE Premium Subscription Services was created upon recognizing the need to help businesses make an even greater impact in the marketplace. MBEs are not required to purchase the subscription. Please note that certification and recertification fees are not part of the subscription. For more information on the Subscription Services, please visit

  19. What is a NAICS code?

    Northern American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code is a six-digit industry classification code developed jointly by the U.S., Canadian and Mexican governments to be used as a North American coding system. Businesses need these codes, which describe their revenue-producing lines of business, to:

    • Register new business with the U.S. Government
    • And subcontract from defense contractors or government agencies
  20. What is the 8(a) Certification?

    The Small Business Administration offers the 8(a) Certification Program to provide opportunities for qualifying small businesses seeking access to the government contracts marketplace. The 8(a) program positions your company for contracting opportunities with government agencies and major prime contractors in a wide variety of industries.

  21. What is a Dun & Bradstreet Number?

    The D&B D-U-N-S Number is a unique nine-digit identification sequence, which provides unique identifiers of single business entities, while linking corporate family structures together. D&B numbers are used by the world’s most influential standards-setting organizations; it is recognized, recommended and/or required by many industry and trade associations, including the United Nations, the U.S. Federal Government, the Australian Government and the European Commission. It is the standard for keeping track of the world’s businesses.

  22. Why am I required to submit the company’s financial information?

    Financial information is critical in validating a company’s business legitimacy, and is kept confidential.

  23. What is NMSDC Central?

    NMSDC Central is the new platform for NMSDC’s new national database of more than 12,000 certified minority suppliers. NMSDC has implemented a new Online Certification and Re-certification Application that is now integrated with NMSDC’s new Minority Supplier Management Information Database, powered by NMSDC Central.Access to NMSDC Central will only be provided to corporate members and certified MBEs.

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