Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, PMP® -> Succession & Retirement Planning, Part-time CFO, Value Growth Institute, Charlotte, North Carolina. U.S.A -

Pay to Play: M/WBE Certification

by Nicole Newman | July 08, 2013

On August 15th, 2012 all PA certified Minority and Women Business Enterprises (M/WBE) received the following e-mail. "Governor Tom Corbett and Secretary of General Services (DGS) Sheri Phillips are excited to announce the creation of the Small Business Procurement Initiative. The Small Business Procurement Initiative (SBPI) will reserve certain Commonwealth procurements for competition among only self-certified, small businesses: businesses with 100 or fewer employees that meet maximum revenue requirements. While the SBPI is a race and gender neutral program, it was developed in part based on feedback from MBEs/WBEs/VBEs, who expressed a strong desire to participate in Commonwealth contracts as a prime contractor."

The email further stated "The first step to participating in the SBPI is to self-certify your business through an online application accessed through the PA Supplier Portal." This website also contains specific program guidelines, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs), and a step-by-step instruction manual for the self-certification process. Effective August 31, 2012, DGS will no longer accept applications for certification from small diverse businesses but will instead verify that small diverse businesses have been certified by an approved third party.

Approved third parties include:

The PA Unified Certification Program (PA-UCP) (cost FREE)

The Minority Supplier Development Council (MSDC) (cost 500-2000 depending on revenue of the business with additional fees for recertification)

The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) (cost 350- 1000 depending on revenue of the business with additional fees for recertification)

The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) Business Development Program (cost FREE) Disclaimer from the website *Although the SBA doesn't certify minority-owned businesses, it does certify small businesses considered to be socially and economically disadvantaged under its nine-year 8(a) Business Development Program....

Bureau of Small Business Opportunities (BSBO) is extended the deadline for companies to register in the SBPI from December 31, 2012 to January 11, 2013. This comes less than one year after the city of Philadelphia discontinued its certification process to accept the third party verification from the state of Pennsylvania. This means that the window of opportunity for M/WBE certified businesses are closing with the Governor Corbett administration.

For 2013, the theme for all business is Pay To Play! The application process can take up to 3 months so now is the time to budget and get the applications in process (as there will be more applications processing closer to the deadline). Some good news though, these fees are additional tax deductible writeoff's for your business!

For more information: The Bureau of Small Business Opportunities, the Small Diverse Business program and verification process described above is posted on the DGS website.

About Nicole Newman

Nicole Newman ( ) is passionate about seeing businesses grow using technology tools that increase productivity. The digital divide is separating the United States into two communities technology - savvy and technology-illiterate. With a Temple University bachelor's degree in Management Information Systems, she is armed with solutions.


About Chia-Li Chien

Chia-Li Chien

Chia-Li Chien, CFP®, CRPC, PMP; Chia-Li “like JOLLY,” Succession Strategist of Value Growth Institute, dedicated to helping private business owners increase their company equity value. She is the award-winning author of the books Show Me The Money and Work toward Reward and a faculty of the American Management Association. Her blog and newsletter was named a Top Small Business Resource by the New York Times You’re the Boss blog. Contact her at or (704) 268-9378 .

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