A Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), or minority owned business enterprises (MBE), must meet some specific requirements in order to qualify for the program that is run by the Department of Transportation to improve the access these businesses have to work. In order to qualify to participate in the program, a small business must be a for- profit and be majority owned by one or more individuals who are socially and economically disadvantaged. The company must also be managed and operated daily by one or more of these qualifying owners.

The purpose of the DBE program is to ensure that there is no discrimination against these minority owned businesses in respect to their being awarded federally funded contracts that are available through the Department of Transportation. Efforts are made to increase their ability to participate in bidding on contracts and to have an equal opportunity to win the jobs that are available. The state and local transportation agencies which receive financial assistance from the Department of Transportation have the responsibility of setting annual goals which are turned into advantages to MBEs that qualify.

Although setting aside contracts and limiting bids to only minority owned businesses is rare, their opportunity to pursue these contracts as prime contractors or subcontractors are greatly improved. The process that is required of these businesses in order to gain certification as a minority owned business is complex and it does not automatically guarantee that the business will receive contracts as a result of the certification.

Before deciding to go through the process of attaining certification as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise, companies may want to learn whether the government agency or corporation which the contracts are through has a need for what the company sells. If the business potential exists, then certification can improve the business’s chances of obtaining contracts. Since the methods of following this program vary from state to state, so do the benefits.

Once a business is certified, the next step is to find the contracts that they can bid on. One solution that works for many of these businesses is going through an outreach program. Trying to sort through the goals and regulations associated with local, state and federal government affirmative action contracting programs on their own can be confusing. An outreach program can provide businesses with the news and updated information they need to find sub-bid opportunities that allow their businesses to participate in public contracting.

There are a number of types of MBEs that can enjoy the advantages of this program including Disabled Veteran Business Enterprises (DVBE), Underutilized Disadvantaged Businesses (UDBE) and Minority and Women Business Enterprises (M/WBE). The right outreach program can help businesses simplify the certification process and guide them in meeting their good faith effort requirements in order to start getting government contracts. One of the biggest advantages of becoming a certified Disadvantaged Business Enterprise is increasing work opportunities that will increase profits to the company and make jobs available to more workers.