SCORE: Can Diverse Supplier Certification Benefit Your Business?


A Black man and woman in their small business.
Image via SCORE Chester & Delaware Counties.
Minority-owned businesses could benefit by receiving diverse supplier certification.

Of the 1.1 million minority-owned employer businesses in the U.S., 99.9 percent are small businesses, but not all of these businesses are certified as diverse suppliers, despite being eligible.

Getting certified as a diverse supplier offers small business owners the opportunity to expand market share, grow their companies, discover new partners, and create new revenue streams, according to SCORE, a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

To take advantage of these benefits, SCORE mentors are available to help business owners learn about diverse supplier certifications and understand the requirements to qualify.

What is a diverse supplier?

A business with diverse supplier certification is one that is at least 51 percent owned and operated by an individual or group that is part of a traditionally underrepresented or underserved group.

Many national corporations and government agencies set annual spending goals to create a diverse supply chain. It does not guarantee contracts for a diverse supplier but rather an equal opportunity to compete.

The federal government aims to award up to 23 percent of its prime contract dollars to certified small businesses. In some cases, it exceeds this allocation. For example, in 2019, it awarded up to $132.9 billion in federal contract dollars to small businesses, representing 26.5 percent of prime contract dollars. 

“For decades, major companies have aspired to help close the wealth gap in the United States by intentionally buying goods and services from diverse suppliers… (e.g., racial or ethnic minorities, women, LGBTQ, veterans, and people with disabilities). But a core challenge has chronically impeded these efforts: purchasing corporations cannot find enough qualified diverse-owned businesses with sufficient scale and capabilities needed to meet their requirements.”

Harvard Business Review, Oct. 2022 

How SCORE Can Help

Founder and Owner of Advanced EEO Solutions

SCORE Chester and Delaware Counties have supported many small business owners through the minority and women-owned business certification process. 

Meet Garrison Birckett, who has been working with his mentor for years.  He sought out the expertise of someone who understood what is required to work with government contracts. 

Frank Millheim, SCORE mentor and subject matter expert on government contracting, worked for a large contractor in his career and has the specific knowledge Garrison was seeking.

“Frank had been through it. He knew the obstacles I was encountering. I could talk with him about matters I could not discuss with anyone in my industry,” Garrison said. “He counseled me to be patient and to stay the course.” After nine mentoring sessions beginning in January 2020, Garrison’s firm had achieved full federal contractor status.

In addition, he received 8A Certification and was awarded a GSA (General Services Administration) schedule, which is a government contract with commercial companies that provide millions of products and services at reasonable prices to the government. This offered Garrison’s business a competitive advantage when bidding on federal contracts. 

Frank continues to meet with Garrison on a regular basis.

Founder and Owner of Advanced EEO Solutions

How SCORE helped me…in Garrison’s words (3 min.)

Find out more about Garrison Birckett and Advanced EEO Solutions LLC.

How can small business owners get certified?

The Women’s Business Enterprise Center (WBEC – East) recommends a quick self-assessment for business owners considering diverse supplier certification.

  • Is your product or service targeted at corporations, wholesale retail, and/or government agencies?
  • If you are a new business, are you ready? Do you have the capacity and quality levels to supply large contracts?
  • Are you willing to share the details of your business with contract customers? This may include capital investments, tax returns, legal documents, and compensation records (kept in secure, confidential portals).

SCORE can help. Find a mentor today.

Small business owners can gather more information through SCORE’s supplier diversity online training course at this link:

Available at no cost, the training course modules are designed to help business owners develop an understanding of and rationale for becoming a certified diverse supplier. 

More specific business certification advice is available from:

WBEC – Women’s Business Enterprise Center (serving PA, NJ, DE)

MBE – Minority-owned Business Enterprise

Working with the Eastern Minority Supplier Development Council (EMSDC)

SAM – Federal System for Award Management

Certification with SBA (U.S. Small Business Administration)

SCORE, the nation’s largest network of volunteer business experts, is dedicated to helping small businesses get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals.

Since 1964, we have provided education and mentorship to more than 11 million entrepreneurs nationwide.

SCORE Chester and Delaware Counties has been operating since 1985, with 100 dedicated volunteers today who provide confidential mentoring at no charge and offer business seminars, workshops and webinars to benefit the local community. 

SCORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).

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