Finding and Supporting Minority Owned Businesses

In the fifty-plus years that the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) has been a part of the Department of Commerce, there’s been a rise in minority and women owned businesses. Business owners, realizing the shift to increased diversity, are starting to look for ways they can include a minority and woman owned business in their supply chain – and for good reason.

According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, there are more than four million minority owned businesses in the United States. With more than 30 million small businesses in the country, finding minority business enterprises (or MBEs) to add to your supply chain can seem daunting, but it’s not.

Government agencies like the Small Business Administration (SBA) and third parties like the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) each provide a list of minority owned businesses online. As a minority owned business, we wanted to provide some insight into how and why to support other certified minority owned business enterprises.

What is a minority owned business and how can I find one to support?

An MBE is a certified business that is owned 51% or more by Black, Asian, Hispanic, or Native American people. The MSDC vets companies that apply for the MBE certification program. Because of this, the SBA and the MSDC both have exhaustive lists that allow business owners to find a minority or woman owned business that fits their needs.

A disadvantaged business enterprise (DBE) is similar: it is a business that is 51%-owned or more by economically or socially disadvantaged individuals. This includes being a certified minority (like is listed above), but allows for individuals with a net worth below a certain threshold to qualify as well.

There are a few ways to find certified MBEs and WBEs to work with. Federal, State, and local  agencies have directories and lists of certified businesses that you can easily filter and search through to find what fits your needs. The SBA has a comprehensive list of all small businesses that you can easily filter to find MBEs and WBEs as part of the 8(a) certification program.

Third-party organizations compile lists of businesses that are MBE or WBE certified. It also includes third-party councils like the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council or the California Public Utilities Commission. One resource that compiles many of these certifications together in a single directory is the 2020 National Minority and Women-Owned Business Directory provided by Diversity Information Resources. Business Research Services has its list of SBA 8(a) businesses here.

As society focuses more on empowering MBEs and WBEs, mainstream media outlets and business publications are compiling their own lists. Forbes, for example, published a list of their Top 100 Black-Owned Businesses to Support which includes minority owned financial firms, cosmetic companies, media outlets, and more.

You may not even need to look through these lists to find an MBE or WBE to work with. Ask the suppliers in your network whether they have any recommendations for minority owned companies they like. Your LinkedIn network may also have MBE or WBE business owners you can reach out to.

You can also join a minority chamber, even if you are not a minority owned business yourself. Many of these minority chambers have members that are involved simply because they want to work with more MBEs/WBEs, not because they are part of one.

Why support minority owned businesses?

Minority owned business enterprises and women owned business enterprises (WBEs) have made significant contributions to the larger business community – from the products and services they provide, to supporting economically disadvantaged groups.

From a business development standpoint, one benefit of including MBEs and WBEs in your supply chain is that it opens up government contracting opportunities. Many federal agencies have diversity inclusion requirements, and will not even consider a vendor if they do not meet these guidelines.

Studies also show that companies can achieve significant productivity improvements simply by having more women and minorities in upper and lower management positions. If you improve diversity by just 1%, productivity will rise by over $700  per employee; in Fortune 500 companies this was more than doubled, approaching nearly $1600 per employee.

About South Coast Paper

South Coast Paper is a certified MBE that is committed to supporting other minority owned businesses and diverse supply chains. When you buy from South Coast Paper you’re supporting diversity and inclusion. We have twenty years of experience in the paper industry, so you can expect reliable, high quality paper products.