Procurement opportunities are abundant for women and minority-owned businesses. However, when it comes to looking for contracts with federal, state, county or municipal governments, large corporations, schools systems, and more, “You must be there [bidding on contracts], or you don’t exist, âsays Andrew Bennett, procurement consultant for New Jersey Small Business Development Centers (NJSBDC).
“It’s the first thing I say to companies that come to see me,Says the purchasing specialist who has over 50 years of experience in the industry.
Second, Bennett advises women and minority-owned businesses to obtain state, federal, and organizational certifications to qualify for set-aside programs in the public and private.you sectors.
At the federal level, this includes obtaining certification under the U.S. Small Business Administration‘s 8 (a) program for women and minority small business owners who are socially and economically disadvantaged. . The federal government must grant 5% of its contracts with companies from 8 (a) certificate. There is also a certification of small women-owned businesses (WOSB) under the SBA.
The U.S. Department of Transportation provides Underprivileged Business Certification (DBE) for women ad businesses owned by minorities or other socially and economically disadvantaged people, including people with disabilities.
Then there is the Women Business Enterprise (WBE) certification with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a private third party that certifies women-owned businesses on behalf of US corporations. City, county, or state programs may also seek WBE certification.
In addition, at the national level, there is the Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification with the National Minority Supplier Development Council, a private third party that certifies minority-owned businesses on behalf of US corporations. City, county, or state programs may also seek an MBE certification.
Meanwhile, the state of New Jersey offuh:
Small Business Certification Program (SBE): Brings together all small businesses, regardless of minority group or gender, under one roof – small businesses – for its 25% layaway program.
Veteran Owned Business (VOB) and Disabled Veteran OwnedED Business Certification (DVOB).
Minority and / or Woman Owned Business or Business Certification (M / WBE): For companies wishing to obtain work with local government entities.
ESBE program: A race and gender neutral program designed to provide procurement opportunities for economically disadvantaged small businesses. This program works in parallel with the Disadvantaged Enterprises (DBE) program on projects funded by the federal government.
More information on these certifications can be found on the state portal: www.business.nj.gov/pages/certifications
Why is it important to be certified and participate in federal government contracts? According to Donald Newman, head of small business advocacy at the New Jersey Business Action Center (NJBAC), heThis is because “the US government is the biggest buyer of goods and services in the world.”
For example, the SBA recently announced that the federal government has exceeded its federal contracting target for small businesses for fiscal year 2020, granting 26.01% or $ 1.$ 45.7 billion in federal small business contracts, an increase of $ 13 billion from the previous year.
However, it also appears that there is money left on the table when it comes to taking advantage of federal procurement opportunities. OKAccording to information provided by the Federal Award Management Registration (FAMR) website, there were not enough 8 (A) small businesses to participate or apply for contracts in 2018, “leaving many valuable contract opportunities. to simply collect the dust “.
For example, of the $ 71.5 billion earmarked for small businesses 8 (A) in 2018, only $ 29.5 billion of these job opportunities were claimed. This meant that nearly 1 in 3 of the 8 (A) contracts available federally have been wasted.
So, opportunities exist, but Raul Mercado, statewide director of the New Jersey Institute of Technology Procurement Technical Assistance Center (NJIT-PTAC), says that when it comes to supplier diversity, âWomen and minority businesses were not included in the whole process, this process being: how do you conduct market research; how you prepare to respond to a request for proposal (RFP); what are the different states and federal regulations to be observed? â¦ The process quickly becomes convoluted and confusing.