Small for-profit companies that are owned by women and/or members of other recognized minority groups simply don’t have the same opportunities to obtain federal contracts that must be won in order to make their businesses succeed. A specific set of criteria has been set forth by the government in order to determine which businesses are qualified to become DBE Certified and which groups of business owners are considered to be at a disadvantage because of the regulations or by the social or economic situations that apply to the individual owner’s case. The individual’s net worth is also considered, as are the size of the business, the percentage of the business the disadvantaged person owns, and whether the business operates independently from other businesses.

Those businesses that meet the requirements of the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program can enjoy a number of benefits that small minority- or women-owned companies would otherwise miss out on. The idea behind this program is to put these disadvantaged business into a position that makes it fairer for them to compete with other businesses. It ensures equal opportunity employment and also gives disadvantaged businesses more opportunities to participate in obtaining employment with greater access to contracts and benefits. State highways, airport agencies and transit departments which receive government funding from the DOT are typically the programs implemented, giving small minority businesses more opportunities to obtain government contracts.

Discrimination is illegal and becoming DBE Certified prevents businesses run by women and/or minorities from experiencing discrimination that affects their opportunities to work. The program uses Supportive Service Providers to help the businesses grow and become self-sufficient to compete for contracts. The basic function of these supportive services is to encourage more certified DBEs to participate in the highway program.

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Certification is an important component of the program because it gives businesses an equal chance at attaining DOT-assisted contracts, in particular for small businesses that might not otherwise be competitive. Through Investigations and Compliance, investigations are performed and monitoring of the program is maintained to ensure contractors are compliant with the terms of the program.

Businesses that meet the criteria of the program and become certified will benefit by receiving greater exposure to local, state and federal contracts to increase their work load. Becoming a DBE also makes hiring your business more appealing to companies who have a percentage of contracts that must be met by certified disadvantaged businesses.

The first step in getting a business certified in the program is to fill out and submit the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise application. For many business owners, understanding the requirements and correctly filling out the application is a complex and difficult process. In order to save time and improve the chances of getting approved for certification, they may need to find a company that helps businesses with their applications and with making the connection to jobs that will grow their business once certification has been attained.