Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
How can I apply for Ethnic Minority Certification?
To apply for certification as a Minority-owned Business Enterprise (MBE), you must read our Certification Criteria, Certification Benefits, and Certification Process pages thoroughly, as they will walk you through the application process.
What additional documents should I submit with my MBE application?
Click here for our Certification Process walkthrough and read the “Certification Application” section, which lists all required documents.
How can I apply for certification if I do not have internet access and/or email?
Since the certification application is only available online, you will need a working email and internet access, the latter of which is available at public libraries and various copy centers. However, please keep in mind that the companies that benefit most from certification have established business operations, the capacity to provide goods and services to major Fortune 500 corporations or their prime suppliers, broad geographic coverage, experience working with major corporations, and the capacity for growth. If you find that the certification process and/or fee are too demanding, NCMSDC strongly suggests that you develop your business and consider applying for certification at a future date.
Is my Username the same as my email address?
Yes. Your Username is the same as your email address, so if you are prompted to enter your Username, be sure to input your email address.
Do you know of any consultants that I can pay to help me prepare my certification application?
We are not affiliated with any firms that offer this service. However, if you have questions about the application or its required documents (after thoroughly reading this FAQ list and our Certification Process page), our Director of Certification is available to assist you via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additionally, be sure to leverage all available business resources, such as your firm’s legal and accounting team, your Board of Directors or Board of Managers (if applicable), Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), and Minority Business Enterprise Centers (MBECs). In order to expedite your certification, NCMSDC suggests that you evaluate your needs before you begin the application process.
What role does NCMSDC play in the Certification process?
As an affiliate of the National MSDC, NCMSDC follows our National Council’s certification standards, as established by our Fortune 500 Corporate Members. Per National, it is the responsibility of each applicant to prove that its firm meets the certification requirements rather than NCMSDC’s responsibility to prove that the applicant does not meet the criteria. NCMSDC’s Certification Department and our Certification Committee review all submitted and complete applications, as well as conduct all required site visits and make an appropriate recommendation to the Board of Directors based on their findings and the facts presented. NCMSDC is responsible for evaluating each applicant’s ownership, day-to-day management, and absolute control of the company as presented during the application process.
Why does NCMSDC ask for so many documents and require that applicants complete such a lengthy application form?
All requested documents and application questions are designed to assist NCMSDC in confirming the following:
*Ethnic Minority Certification is granted to companies that are owned, operated and controlled by U.S. citizens who belong to one or more of the following minority groups (to qualify for certification, a minority business owner must provide documentation to support the claim that they possess 1/4 or 25% minimum of the following ethnicities): Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, Native American, or Native Hawaiian.
How long does the certification process take?
The certification process typically takes between 45-60 days (and, in some cases, up to 90 days) depending on when the application is submitted and the completeness of supporting documentation.
Who qualifies for Ethnic Minority Certification through NCMSDC?
NCMSDC certifies any for-profit business located in Northern California or Hawaii that is 51% or more ethnic minority-owned, operated and controlled by a U.S. citizen (s), and authorized by the State and County to do business. Click here for additional criteria and see below for which groups the National MSDC considers ethnic minorities and U.S. citizens.
Who does the National MSDC accept as an ethnic minority?
Ethnic Minority Certification is granted to companies that are owned, operated and controlled by U.S. citizens who belong to one or more of the following minority groups (to qualify for certification, a minority business owner must provide documentation to support the claim that they possess 1/4 or 25% minimum of the following ethnicities):
A U.S. citizen whose origins are from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh.
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.
A U.S. citizen having origins in any of the Black racial groups of sub-Saharan Africa.
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 shall be listed under Hispanic designation for review and certification purposes.
A person who is an American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut and Native Hawaiian, and regarded as such by the community of which the person claims to be a part.
A Native American Indian 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
The National MSDC certifies based on bloodline NOT nationality.
What classification codes does the NCMSDC application use to distinguish ethnicity?
Asian-Indian American Female
Asian-Indian American Male
Asian-Pacific American Female
Asian-Pacific American Male
African American Female
African American Male
Hispanic American Female
Hispanic American Male
Native American/Native Hawaiian Female
Native American/Native Hawaiian Male
Do minority business owners have to be U.S. citizens to qualify for certification?
Yes. An applicant must be a U.S. citizen either by birth or naturalization and must have the appropriate documentation to prove this. Permanent residents and Green Card holders do not qualify.
Am I eligible for certification if I recently started my business?
Yes. There is no restriction on how long a business has been in operation. However, please keep in mind that businesses that benefit most from certification have experience working with major corporations; the capacity to provide goods and services to Fortune 500 corporations or their prime suppliers; broad geographic coverage; and the capacity for growth. If your company does not meet these recommended standards, then NCMSDC strongly suggests you develop your business and consider applying for certification at a future date.
How much does certification cost?
$350.00 – First-Time Local Certification
The above processing fee applies to: 1. First-time Minority-owned Business Enterprise (MBE) applicants; 2. Former certified MBEs whose NCMSDC certificates have expired; or 3. Former applicants whose applications were denied and who have waited the requisite 1 year period before reapplying.
$150.00 – Annual Certification Renewal (Recertification) for both Local & Reciprocal Certifications
The above processing fee applies to any current MBEs (local or reciprocal) who would like to become recertified.
$150.00 – First-Time Reciprocal Certification
The above processing fee applies to any MBEs currently certified with an affiliate National MSDC Council in a region outside of Northern California and Hawaii and that would like to apply for Reciprocal Certification through NCMSDC.
NOTE: All above fees are non-refundable and must be paid with a check or cashier’s check made payable to “NCMSDC” (include this with your application). Credit cards are not accepted.
Does NCMSDC certify women-owned businesses?
Our certification is ethnicity-based rather than gender-based. Therefore, NCMSDC does not certify women-owned businesses unless the owner is also an ethnic minority and meets our additional criteria. As we are not part of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) we do not have further information on their certification process. We encourage you to find their listing on our Resources & Affiliates page and visit them online.
Does NCMSDC certify Small Disadvantaged Businesses (SDBs)?
Our certification is ethnicity-based rather than income-based or wealth-based. Therefore, NCMSDC does not certify SDBs unless the owner is also an ethnic minority and meets our additional criteria. We encourage you to find information about SDB certification on our Resources & Affiliates page.
What are NAICS Codes?
The North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) groups establishments into industry sectors based on the activities in which they are primarily engaged. The NAICS is a comprehensive system covering the entire field of economic activities, producing and non-producing. This system replaced the former Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) designations and is utilized by Corporate America, as well as local, state, and federal government entities. During the NCMSDC certification process, you will be required to identify your company’s NAICS designation code(s), as major corporations use them to identify certified MBEs and potential suppliers. If the NAICS codes you select are not precise, your company may not come up when Corporate Members search for suppliers in your industry; this could lead to missed business opportunities. Please keep in mind that most Fortune 500 corporations are NOT looking for jack-of-all-trades MBEs, but are instead seeking functional experts. Therefore, be specific and accurate when listing your NAICS codes (you have the opportunity to list up to 5).
How can I determine my company’s NAICS code(s)?
You may locate the NAICS code online at www.naics.com.
Does NCMSDC certify Joint Ventures?
Joint Ventures can only be certified under very specific circumstances. Contact NCMSDC’s Certification Department at email@example.com for clarification.
What financial statements should an MBE applicant submit?
The National MSDC requires that one (1) full year of financial statements be submitted regardless of the length of time the company has been in business. Pro forma (projected) statements shall be used to complete the remainder of the year. “Financial statements” refers to the following: Balance Sheet, Income Statement (Profit & Loss Statement), and Statement of Cash Flow.
What financial statements should I submit if my company is a startup or has been operating for less than one (1) year?
If your company has been in business for less than one (1) year, provide a copy of the following:
What tax information should MBE applicants submit?
National MSDC policy requires submission of your Federal Business Tax Return for the two (2) preceding years. If your company has been in business for more than a year and has not filed taxes, submit a copy of the previous year's tax return, a copy of the Automatic Extension Agreement, and one (1) year of personal tax returns. For startup businesses, please: 1. write a letter indicating you are a startup business and have not filed taxes; and 2. submit two (2) years of personal tax returns.
During the Certification Process, does NCMSDC require a site visit? What if I have a home-based business?
Yes. Site visits are a mandatory part of the certification process. After the Certification Committee has reviewed your application and you have submitted all additional requested documents, NCMSDC will schedule a site visit with you during the second, third, or fourth week of the month. Your site visit will be conducted at your company’s headquarters by NCMSDC staff or a member of the Certification Committee. If you have a home-based office, you will be required to meet with the site visitor at the NCMSDC office in Oakland, CA. Applications will not be approved without a completed site visit.
How long is my certification valid and when do I have to renew my certification?
Certification is valid for one (1) year and you are required to renew your certification each year. It is your responsibility to maintain up-to-date certification yearly. Your certification expiration date will be listed on your hard copy paper certificate. While your current registered contacts may receive a courtesy notification warning that your certification is due to expire, NCMSDC is not responsible for ensuring that an MBE gets recertified. Recertification remains the sole responsibility of each MBE. To identify or update which emails will receive the recertification reminder, please click here to login and view your registered contacts. Note that your completed recertification paperwork must be postmarked by the expiration date on your certificate. Companies that do not meet the deadline will be decertified the day after their certification expires. Your anniversary date will not be moved or changed and will remain with your organization throughout your time as an NCMSDC MBE. We recommend that you start the renewal process sixty (60) to ninety (90) days before your expiration deadline. Please allow for four (4) weeks of processing time. To learn more about the Certification Renewal process, click here.
If I apply for certification and am denied (or if I am decertified), is there an appeal process?
Yes. If you believe that you have been denied certification or have been decertified in error, you may file an appeal with the NCMSDC Board of Directors within thirty (30) days of your denial or termination; you may NOT introduce new information during the appeal process. The appeal must be signed and dated. The Board will review your case and make a recommendation to the NCMSDC President, who will notify you in writing of the Board’s decision. Please note that the Board’s decision is final.
If I apply for certification and am denied, can I reapply?
Any applicant whose certification application is denied may reapply after one (1) year. You will be required to submit information and documents that reflect a change in status and resolve the issues or circumstances that resulted in your initial denial.
If my company was once certified through NCMSDC but my certification expired, do I have to submit a new application?
Yes. If your certification expired you must go through the application process from the beginning, just as if this is your first time applying.
Who serves on the Certification Committee?
The Certification Committee is comprised of NCMSDC Corporate Members that review each application and compare it to the National MSDC’s certification standards. MBEs are not permitted to join this committee.
What does the Certification Committee look for in an application?
The Certification Committee reviews minority ownership, managerial operations and control.
"Ownership by minority individuals" means the business is at least 51% owned by such individuals or, in the case of a corporation or an LLC, such individuals own at least 51% of the shares and control the corporation's Board of Directors or the LLC's Board of Managers. The minority owner(s) shall possess the title and power to direct or cause the direction of the management and policies of the business and to make independent, day-to-day business decisions as well as other major decisions on matters of management, policy, and operations. The business shall not be subject to any formal or informal restrictions through, for example, by-law/operating agreement provisions, partnership agreements or charter requirements for cumulative voting rights or other arrangements that prevent the minority owner(s) from making a decision for the business without the cooperation or vote of any owner who is not a minority. In summary, the certifiable minority business owner must demonstrate operational and managerial control of the firm. This control shall be real, substantial, and continuing and shall go beyond the pro forma ownership of the business as reflected in the ownership documents. If the non-minority owners of the business are disproportionately responsible for the operation and management of the business, then the firm is not controlled by minorities and shall not be considered eligible for Ethnic Minority Certification through NCMSDC.
Does NCMSDC or any affiliate of NCMSDC sign a confidentiality agreement prior to reviewing MBE applications?
Yes. NCMSDC staff members and all Certification Committee Members are required to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Will I receive a contract based solely on my certification?
No. While MBE certification is a value add, corporate buyers also evaluate potential suppliers based on their experience providing goods and services to Fortune 500 corporations or their prime suppliers, their broad geographic coverage, their capacity for growth, and many other requirements in addition to the certifications that they hold. Certification will NOT result in instant contracts. MBEs must do their due diligence in getting involved with Corporate Members in the NCMSDC network and proactively expanding their own business platform. The certified MBEs that are most successful do not wait for contracts to fall into their laps and they do not lead with “I’m minority-owned” when meeting with corporate buyers. The most successful MBEs view certification as a tool in their tool chest, along with price, quality, and on-time delivery. Instead, they actively pursue business opportunities and impress corporate buyers with their demonstrated industry knowledge, experience, professionalism, and capacity. As one of our most prestigious Supplier Diversity Executives said at an NCMSDC training, “Certification is just the icing on the cake”—the final sales piece to seal the deal.
What happens after I become certified?
Upon approval by the NCMSDC Board of Directors, you will receive an official certificate, certification number, and welcome letter. You will also gain access to the NCMSDC database of Corporate Members, which contains the contact information for corporate buyers and Supplier Diversity professionals in our network. In addition, you will be able to access current corporate and government bid opportunities via our website, as well as attend MBE-only events and MBE Input Committee meetings.
Once I become certified, how can I identify my company as a certified MBE?Please click here to read the "Do's & Don'ts for Identifying Your Company as a Certified MBE” guidelines.
After I’m certified, how can I capitalize on my new MBE status?
Active participation is crucial. NCMSDC suggests that new MBEs do the following to begin capitalizing on their status as certified MBEs:
How can I get involved with NCMSDC?
Involvement with NCMSDC is a vital component of certification. We strongly encourage our certified MBEs to actively participate in events to facilitate relationship building with Corporate Members and other certified suppliers. Please visit our events calendar to learn more about our events throughout the year, including:
*Major Council events
How do Corporate Members & corporate buyers search for MBE suppliers in the NCMSDC database?
Depending on their specific sourcing need, corporations can search for suppliers using a variety of criteria, including NAICS codes and keywords. Note that keywords scan your profile description, so be sure to be accurate and thorough as you fill out your certification application and/or renewal application. Add terms that a Corporate Member might commonly enter when searching for the products or services that you provide. Description limit: 2,000 characters (not words). For NAICS codes, ensure that your codes accurately reflect your goods and services; you may enter up to 5 NAICS codes.
Who should I contact if I have ideas for Council events and direction?
The MBE Input Committee (MBEIC) serves as the voice for all certified MBEs. Please contact the MBEIC Chair to share your thoughts and be sure to visit the MBEIC page for opportunities to get involved. You may also wish to consider running for a voting Committee Member position on the MBEIC in future.
Does NCMSDC have a newsletter?
Yes. NCMSDC issues our bimonthly e-newsletter to all certified MBEs, Corporate Members, and Strategic Alliance Partners. Click here to explore our newsletter archives. Please note that NCMSDC also has an open call for submissions from our certified MBEs and Corporate Members. If you would like to submit an article for consideration please follow the guidelines below:
If I’ve lost my password, how do I retrieve it?
Click here to go to the login screen and then click on “Forgot Password?”
What changes would affect my certification status?
If a change occurs in your business, it is your responsibility to inform NCMSDC within thirty (30) days. The following is a list of common situations:
May I drop by the NCMSDC office for an unscheduled visit to discuss the certification application process, ask for instructions on how to apply, and/or meet with the NCMSDC President, Vice President, or Director of Certification?
Dropping by the NCMSDC office without an appointment is strongly discouraged, as our staff is often out hosting events or in meetings. All certification information is listed on our website for your convenience. After you read our online material, if you still have questions please call 510.686.2555.
Why haven’t I received any of the frequent communications that NCMSDC sends out to its constituents?
NCMSDC communicates primarily through email. Ensure that the email address that you provided in your online profile is up-to-date by logging in to our website here and verifying your current registered contacts.
What is the National Minority Supplier Development Council (National MSDC)?
The National Minority Supplier Development Council is comprised of 37 Regional Councils like NCMSDC, 16,000 minority businesses, and 3,500 Corporate Members, including most of America’s largest publicly-owned, privately-owned and foreign-owned companies, as well as universities, hospitals, and other buying institutions. Visit the National MSDC online at http://www.nmsdc.org/.
If I become certified through NCMSDC, will I also be certified through the National MSDC?
Yes. Certification obtained through NCMSDC is valid throughout the United States. In some cases, Reciprocal Certification may be necessary if you are required to hold a local certification for a particular contract or bid opportunity.
Where is NCMSDC located?
We are located at 460 Hegenberger Road, Suite 730, Oakland, CA 94621.
What is the phone number for NCMSDC?
What is the fax number for NCMSDC?