Audio version (Part 1)
Audio version (Part 2)
In the first part of this series, we explored the significant advantages of obtaining certifications from prominent organizations like the Small Business Administration (SBA), the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC). These certifications serve as powerful tools, opening doors to government contracts, corporate partnerships, and a broader client base while affirming a commitment to diversity and inclusion. The aforementioned organizations are just the tip of the iceberg. There are numerous third-party organizations that also offer valuable certifications that can further boost your business. Let’s delve into a few more.
1. The National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC) is an organization that focuses on advancing the economic interests of LGBT-owned businesses and fostering diversity and inclusion in the business community. NGLCC offers a range of services and assistance to LGBT-owned businesses to help them grow and succeed. Here are some of the key services and resources provided by the NGLCC:
- Certification as LGBT Business Enterprise (LGBTBE): NGLCC offers LGBT Business Enterprise certification to businesses that are at least 51% owned, operated, managed, and controlled by LGBT individuals. This certification is recognized and respected by corporations and government agencies seeking to include lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered (LGBT)-owned businesses in their supply chains.
- Networking Opportunities: NGLCC hosts various events, conferences, and networking opportunities that connect LGBTBEs with potential clients, corporate partners, government agencies, and other business owners. These events provide a platform for building valuable relationships and exploring business opportunities.
- Business Development and Education: NGLCC offers business development programs, training, and educational resources to help LGBT-owned businesses enhance their skills, access resources, and stay informed about business trends and best practices.
- Access to Corporate Partners: The NGLCC has corporate partners and corporate members that are committed to supplier diversity and inclusion. Certified LGBTBEs can connect with these organizations to explore contracting and procurement opportunities.
- Advocacy and Public Policy: NGLCC advocates for policies that support LGBT-owned businesses and promotes diversity and inclusion. The organization engages in public policy efforts to advance the economic interests of the LGBT business community.
- Supplier Diversity Support: NGLCC assists corporations in developing and strengthening their supplier diversity programs, offering guidance and best practices for increasing diversity in their supply chains.
- International Opportunities: NGLCC collaborates with organizations worldwide to expand opportunities for LGBT-owned businesses in international markets, fostering global business growth and trade.
- Business Resources: The organization provides access to a range of resources, including market research, business development tools, and information on various industries and sectors.
- Mentorship and Leadership Development: NGLCC offers mentorship and leadership development programs to help LGBT business owners and entrepreneurs advance their careers and businesses.
- Certification Renewal and Support: Certified LGBTBEs can access support and guidance for maintaining their certification and staying engaged with NGLCC's network.
2. The National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) is an organization dedicated to supporting and advancing the interests of veteran-owned businesses in the United States. NaVOBA provides various services and assistance to its members, which are veteran-owned businesses, to help them grow and succeed. Here are some of the key services and resources offered by NaVOBA to its members:
- Certification as Veterans Business Enterprise (VBE): NaVOBA offers certification to businesses that are majority-owned and controlled by veterans. This certification, known as the Veteran's Business Enterprise (VBE) certification, helps veteran-owned businesses access procurement opportunities with corporations, government agencies, and other organizations that prioritize supplier diversity.
- Business Development and Networking: NaVOBA provides opportunities for veteran-owned businesses to network with potential clients, corporate partners, government agencies, and other veteran business owners. Networking events and conferences facilitate connections and partnerships.
- Access to Contract Opportunities: Certified VBEs can explore contracting and procurement opportunities with NaVOBA's corporate partners, many of which are committed to supplier diversity and veteran inclusion in their supply chains.
- Mentorship and Education: NaVOBA offers mentorship programs and educational resources to help veteran entrepreneurs and business owners enhance their skills, grow their businesses, and navigate the complexities of supplier diversity programs.
- Advocacy and Public Policy: NaVOBA advocates for policies and initiatives that support veteran-owned businesses and promote veteran inclusion in the business community. The organization engages in public policy efforts to advance the economic interests of veteran entrepreneurs.
- Recognition and Awards: NaVOBA recognizes and celebrates the achievements of veteran-owned businesses through awards and accolades, including the annual Vetrepreneur of the Year® awards.
- Business Resources: Members have access to a range of business resources, including market research, business development tools, and information on various industries and sectors.
- Supplier Diversity Support: NaVOBA assists corporations in developing and strengthening their supplier diversity programs, offering guidance and best practices for increasing diversity in their supply chains through veteran-owned businesses.
- Veteran Hiring Initiatives: Some NaVOBA corporate partners may offer veteran hiring initiatives and employment opportunities for veterans within their organizations.
- Certification Renewal and Support: Certified VBEs can access support and guidance for maintaining their certification and staying engaged with NaVOBA's network.
3. Disability:IN offers Disability-Owned Business Enterprise (DOBE) certification for businesses owned by individuals with disabilities. Disability:IN is an organization that focuses on promoting disability inclusion in the business community and advancing opportunities for individuals with disabilities. While Disability:IN primarily works with corporations to foster diversity and inclusion, they also offer resources and support that can benefit small businesses. Here are some of the services and assistance that Disability:IN may offer to small businesses:
- Disability Inclusion Training and Resources: Disability:IN provides training and resources to help businesses of all sizes, including small businesses, create inclusive workplaces. They offer guidance on disability etiquette, reasonable accommodations, and best practices for hiring and retaining employees with disabilities.
- Supplier Diversity Support: Disability:IN encourages corporations to include disability-owned businesses in their supplier diversity programs. Small businesses that are owned by individuals with disabilities may benefit from Disability:IN's efforts to promote procurement opportunities and connections with corporate partners.
- Networking Opportunities: Small business owners can participate in Disability:IN events, conferences, and webinars to network with potential clients, corporate members, and other disability-owned businesses. These events provide opportunities for building relationships and exploring business partnerships.
- Advocacy and Public Policy: Disability:IN advocates for policies and practices that promote disability inclusion in the workplace and supplier diversity. They engage in public policy efforts to advance the economic interests of individuals with disabilities and disability-owned businesses.
- Business Resources: Disability:IN offers access to a range of resources, including research, case studies, and toolkits that can help small businesses better understand disability inclusion, compliance with disability-related laws, and strategies for creating accessible products and services.
- Recognition and Awards: Disability:IN recognizes and celebrates businesses and individuals that demonstrate a commitment to disability inclusion through awards and recognition programs.
- Access to Talent: Disability:IN connects businesses, including small businesses, with a pool of talented individuals with disabilities who are seeking employment opportunities. This can help small businesses diversify their workforce.
It's important to note that Disability:IN primarily collaborates with larger corporations and government agencies to promote disability inclusion and supplier diversity. While many of their resources and initiatives are designed to benefit businesses of all sizes, the extent to which small businesses can engage with Disability:IN may vary depending on their specific needs and objectives.
4. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) primarily focuses on providing services and benefits to veterans and their families. While the VA's primary mission is not directly related to supporting small businesses, it does offer some opportunities and resources that may benefit small businesses, especially those owned by veterans. Here are some ways in which small businesses, including those owned by veterans, can interact with and potentially benefit from the VA:
- Procurement Opportunities: The VA purchases a wide range of goods and services to support its healthcare facilities and operations. Small businesses, including veteran-owned small businesses, can compete for VA contracts by registering on the VA's Vendor Information Pages (VIP) database and participating in VA procurement opportunities.
- Veterans First Contracting Program: The VA has specific procurement programs that prioritize contracting opportunities for veteran-owned small businesses (VOSBs) and service-disabled veteran-owned small businesses (SDVOSBs). To participate in these programs, businesses must be verified as VOSBs or SDVOSBs through the VA's Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE).
- VA Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE): The CVE is responsible for verifying the veteran status and ownership of businesses seeking to participate in VA contracting opportunities. Small businesses can apply for verification as VOSBs or SDVOSBs through the CVE to access VA set-aside contracts and other procurement advantages.
- Mentor-Protégé Program: The VA offers a Mentor-Protégé Program to help small businesses, including veteran-owned businesses, build their capacity and compete for VA contracts. This program encourages large VA prime contractors to mentor small businesses.
- Access to Capital: While the VA does not directly provide business loans or financing to small businesses, it may work with other federal agencies and organizations that do offer access to capital and financing options for small businesses.
- Collaboration with VA Facilities: Small businesses can collaborate with VA medical centers and facilities to provide products and services, such as medical equipment, supplies, and construction services. These collaborations can result in contracts with individual VA facilities.
- Veteran-Owned Small Business Outreach: The VA conducts outreach efforts to inform veteran-owned small businesses about procurement opportunities, resources, and programs available to them.
- Business Development Resources: The VA may provide information and resources to help small businesses navigate the federal contracting process, understand VA procurement requirements, and identify potential contract opportunities.
It's important for small businesses, especially veteran-owned businesses, to familiarize themselves with the VA's procurement procedures, set-aside programs, and eligibility criteria. Businesses interested in contracting with the VA should also consider obtaining verification as VOSBs or SDVOSBs through the CVE.
The world of small business certifications and set-aside programs extends far beyond the well-known entities such as the Small Business Administration. As we've explored, certifications from organizations such as the Veterans Association, the National LGBT Chamber of Commerce (NGLCC), Disability:IN, and the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA), it becomes clear that there are numerous paths to success, each tailored to different businesses and unique demographics. These certifications offer opportunities to diversify your clientele, access specialized resources, and make a positive impact on various communities. By delving into these opportunities (if they apply), you open the door to new horizons, where your business can thrive, innovate, and contribute to a more inclusive and diverse business landscape. So, keep your entrepreneurial spirit high, explore these hidden gems, and watch your small business reach new heights of achievement and social responsibility.