According to the recently released 2019 Annual Business Survey, minority and women business enterprises (MWBE) make up nearly 40% of all U.S. businesses. In fact, minority-owned businesses make up over 18% of all U.S. businesses while women-owned businesses make up nearly 20%.
Despite taking up almost half of the market share of all U.S. businesses, MWBE have been historically underserved. Fortunately, there are a variety of resources to help minority and women-owned business owners take their businesses to the next level.
In this post, we outline how you can increase exposure for your business, where to get business mentoring and networking help, how to get capital, and more.
Increasing Exposure For Your Minority or Women-Owned Business
More and more, consumers want to support minority and women-owned businesses. So much so that search engines and eCommerce sites have added special tags and badges to better distinguish a minority or woman-owned business in search results. Here are some of the most common that you can add to your business profiles to help drive sales from interested allies:
1. Black-Owned Business Badges on Google and Yelp
Since last year’s Black Lives Matter protests, online searches for “Black-owned businesses” have surged on sites like Google and Yelp. In response, such sites have launched “Black-owned” badges to help consumers more easily find what they’re looking for.
These programs are entirely opt-in, so if you don’t want a badge for your Black-owned business, you don’t have to have one. That said, if you do, follow these simple instructions:
- Google’s Black-Owned Business Badge: To add the badge to your Google profile, which appears in search results on Google.com as well as Google Maps, sign in to your verified Google My Business account, go to the menu and click “Info.” Scroll down to Highlights and click the pencil icon, then click the Black-owned attribute and follow the prompts.
- Yelp’s Black-Owned Business Badge: To add the badge to your Yelp page and search results, sign in to your Yelp for Business account, click “Edit” next to “Known for” and select “Yes” next to Black-owned. Click Save Changes.
2. Women-Owned Badge on Google
Similar to Google’s Black-owned Business Badge, there is a “Women-Owned” badge that women business owners can add to their Google My Business profiles.
If this applies to you, sign in to your verified Google My Business account, go to the menu and click “Info.” Scroll down to Highlights and click the pencil icon, then click the women-owned attribute and follow the prompts.
3. Curated Etsy Markets & Featured Businesses
Etsy makes it easy for consumers to shop for minority and women-owned businesses. In fact, they have created markets specific to different groups as well as featured sellers.
For example, consumers can easily search for Latinx-owned, Black-owned, Women-owned, Asian-owned, Native-owned, LGBT-owned and Veteran-owned shops. To be included in search results, all you have to do is add the appropriate tag to your profile.
In addition, Etsy features businesses by categories, like their Featured Black-Owned Shops and Featured Latinx-Owned Shops, which include an extensive roundup of Editor’s Picks, spotlights on their Black and Latinx sellers, and more. Contact Etsy directly to find out how to be included in these featured shops.
Pro Tip: Etsy also offers a seller community for Black-owned businesses to collaborate, share ideas, network, and more. Click here to learn more and join the community.
4. Amazon Black-Owned Storefronts
As part of Amazon’s diversity efforts, they also launched a certified supplier diversity program as part of Amazon Business, the eCommerce giant’s B2B store. The program promotes Guided Buying, which allows buyers to filter searches by a variety of minority categories, including minority-owned, women-owned, economically disadvantaged, veteran-owned, LGBT-owned, and more. Such tags will also appear on a seller’s product listing. Click here to learn more about how to certify your minority business.
Business Mentoring, Networking & Growth
To get support in other areas of your business, collaborate with like-minded business owners, and/or increase access to capital, start by looking into these organizations:
1. Minority Business Development Agency
The Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), a division of the U.S. Department of Commerce, is the only federal agency solely dedicated to helping minority businesses grow by increasing their access to capital, contracts, and markets.
In fact, in Fiscal Year 2019, they helped minority-owned businesses gain access to more than $1.6 billion in capital, secure $3.1 billion contracts, and facilitate more than $300 million in export transactions.
MBDA has Business Centers across the U.S. as well as online support resources. Learn more here.
2. National Minority Supplier Development Council
Certifying your business as minority-owned can help you secure contracts with government agencies and corporations, many of which set aside a portion of their contract budgets for minority-owned businesses.
The National Minority Supplier Development Council is the largest certification body in the U.S. for minority-owned businesses, with a network of more than 1,400 large corporate members, including Apple, Bank of America, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Walmart, and more. Learn more and start the certification process here.
Pro Tip: States also offer business certification programs to help minority and women owned businesses gain access to contracting opportunities. For example, New York State’s MWBE Certification Program. Find out more information on state-specific certification opportunities via the MBDA here.
3. Small Business Administration’s 8(a) Business Development Program
The U.S. federal government aims to award a minimum of 5% of all federal contracting dollars to small disadvantaged businesses. Through the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development program, minority-owned businesses can get certified and gain access to federal contract opportunities.
SCORE is the largest network of volunteer business mentors with expertise in a wide range of industries and disciplines. They are dedicated to helping small businesses “get off the ground, grow and achieve their goals.” Entrepreneurs can get free and confidential mentoring from business experts in their field.
Their SCORE for Black Entrepreneurs program is designed specifically to help increase growth opportunities for Black-owned businesses. In addition, they offer a variety of resources for minority-owned businesses.
5. Minority Chambers of Commerce
A chamber of commerce is “a voluntary partnership of businesses and professionals working together to build a healthy economy and improve the quality of life in a community.” Most communities have a local chamber of commerce that caters to businesses local to their area. In addition, there are chambers that support minority-owned business organizations across the country. For example:
- U.S. Black Chambers: Creating networking, advocacy, and education opportunities for Black-owned businesses.
- U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce: Promoting economic interests of Hispanic-owned businesses.
- U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce: Offering education and help with securing investors and business contracts.
Cash Flow Solutions for Your MWBE
Small businesses have historically had a difficult time accessing capital to grow. Fortunately, there are organizations dedicated to increasing capital access for small and MWBE, like some of those listed in the previous section.
Additionally, financing companies are leveraging technology to make lending decisions based solely on business health and sales performance — not on socioeconomic factors that can lead to biased decisions.
One such company is Payability, a financing company designed specifically for eCommerce sellers. By looking at your online selling history and overall account health across platforms like Amazon, Walmart, eBay, Shopify, Newegg, and more – not personal credit scores or other factors. Payability makes decisions in as fast as 24 hours and can get you daily cash payments and cash advances as soon as tomorrow based on the growth and performance of your eCommerce business.
Rather than wait for your eCommerce payouts, which can sometimes take two or more weeks to hit your account, you can start getting paid daily on your sales or even receive a large lump sum in advance.