AKSourceLink Blog

Disadvantaged Businesses

Posted by Nolan Klouda on Jan 06, 2012

Even if your business is not minority or woman owned, the odds are good that you will eventually work with a DBE (disadvantaged business enterprise). Many large companies and government agencies at all levels have diversity policies regarding purchasing and procurement, so it pays to know a little bit about the resources available to DBE's.

So first, what exactly qualifies as a DBE? Definitions will vary, and multiple categories exist. In many (but by no means all) cases, these entities are given an edge in competitive bidding. Here's the rundown:

Veterans. The Veterans Administration certifies two types of DBE: Veteran Owned Small Business (VOSB) and Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business. 

Women. The Small Business Administration can certify a business as a WOSB or Women Owned Small Business.

Historically Underutilized Business Zones, or HUBZones. This SBA designation applies to businesses located in areas designated as "Indian Country" or near closed military bases. (See details.)

8(a) Business Development. The 8(a) program is another SBA program that allows socially disadvantaged businesses to receive sole-source government contracts under certain conditions. Businesses may hold 8(a) status for nine years.

Small Business. Small businesses (whatever their ownership) can also be certified by SBA. Many federal, state, and local government agencies require that a certain share of procurement opportunities are "set aside" for small businesses--don't miss out!

State and local DBE programs. Many state and municipal governments also certify disadvantaged businesses. In Alaska, the Department of Transportation Civil Rights Office offers a general DBE designation for businesses owned by disadvantaged groups, for instance. 

Content contributed by Nolan Klouda, AKSourceLink.
AKSourceLink is a proud affiliate of U.S.SourceLink, America’s largest resource network for entrepreneurs 

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