Definition of an MBE

The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) defines a minority business enterprise (MBE) as a for-profit business that is at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by a member(s) of a qualified minority group.  To be considered a member of a qualified minority group, a person must be a United States citizen who is Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic, or Native American. Ownership by qualified minority individuals means the business is at least 51% owned by such individuals or, in the case of a publicly owned business, at least 51% of the stock is owned by one or more such individuals.

NMSDC Minority Guidelines

For purposes of NMSDC certification, a minority group member is an individual who is a U.S. citizen with at least one-quarter of the following:

Black Woman

Black | African American

A U.S. citizen having origins in any of the Black racial groups of Sub-Sahara Africa.  These countries include: Angola; Benin; Botswana; Burkina-Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Cape Verde; Central African Republic; Chad; Comoros; Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC); Cote d’Ivoire; Djibouti;  Equatorial Guinea; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Gabon; Gambia; Ghana; Guinea; Guinea-Bissau; Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mauritius; Mozambique; Namibia; Niger; Nigeria; Rwanda; Sao Tome &Principe; Senegal; Seychelles; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Africa; Swaziland; Tanzania; Togo; Uganda; Western Sahara; Zambia; and Zimbabwe. Caribbean natives of African descent are also eligible. These islands include Aruba; Barbados; Bonaire; the Cayman Islands; Saint Croix; The Bahamas or Antigua; Cuba; Hispaniola; Puerto Rico; Jamaica; Dominica; Montserrat; Saba; Saint Kitts; Saint Lucia; Saint Thomas; Saint John; Tortola; Grenada; Saint Vincent; Guadeloupe; Martinique; and Trinidad & Tobago.


A U.S. citizen whose origins are from the Asian Indian region. These countries include Bangladesh; India; Indonesia; Nepal; Pakistan; Sri Lanka.

Asian-Indian Man
Asian-Pacific Couple


A U.S. citizen whose origins are from the Asian Pacific region.  These countries include the following: Cambodia; China; Guam; Japan; Korea; Laos; Malaysia; the Philippines; Samoa; Thailand; Tibet; Taiwan; the U.S. Trust Territories of the Pacific or the Northern Marianas; and, Vietnam.

Hispanic | Latin American

A U.S. citizen of true-born Hispanic heritage, from any of the Spanish-speaking areas of the following regions:

Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Central America, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, South America, Uruguay, Venezuela.

The Caribbean Basin only, Brazilians (Afro-Brazilian, indigenous/Indian only) shall be listed under Hispanic designation for review and certification purposes.

Native American Woman

Native American

A person who is an American Indian, Eskimo, Aleut or Native Hawaiian, and regarded as such by the community of which the person claims to be a part.

Native Americans 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).

Frequently Asked Questions

NMSDC’s certification standard is based on the applicant having the ability to provide the following requirements.  An application, documentation and site visit is required for all applicant to ascertain the requirements are met:

  • Minorities must own and control at least 51% of the business
  • Minority owner(s) must serve as President or CEO (if both positions exist)
  • Minority owner(s) must be active in daily management
  • Minority owner(s) must be a U.S. citizen

Ownership is established through the documents uploaded with your application. An example of the required document is listed below based on the legal organization of the applicant business:

  • 100% of the assets of a sole proprietorship
  • At least 51% of the equity interests in a partnership
  • At least 51% of each of the classes of voting stock and 51.0% of the aggregate of all stock outstanding determined by the percentage that would be distributed to the Minorities if the corporation was liquidated
  • At least 51% of the membership interests in a limited liability company

A minority has control of the business if she / he is the final decision maker for all aspects of the business — financial, production, contracting, etc. — or she / he may have delegated that authority to an employee manager or another partial owner. A primary indication that a Minority actively participates in the management and has control of the business is that she / he meets one of the following criteria:

  • 100% of the control of a sole proprietorship
  • At least 51% of the control of a general partnership
  • A Minority owner is the general partner (or the managing general partner if there is more than one general partner) of a limited partnership or limited liability partnership
  • A Minority is the sole manager, able to appoint unconditionally the majority of managers of a manager-managed LLC or has 51% control of a member-managed LLC

No, it is much easier. Unless there has been a change in the ownership, management and control of your business, very little paperwork is required. For re-certification, MBEs are required to provide financial documents, current tax forms and any updates to their certification application.

Ready to Get Certified?

If the above applies to you and your business, contact the NMSDC regional affiliate where your business is headquartered to you to learn more about the certification process.

Certification fees vary by council and can be found on their individual websites. Documentation to prove ethnicity will be required.