Certifying Your Business

For many minority- and women-owned companies, acquiring state or national certification opens doors to business opportunities and can mean the difference between winning and losing a contract. 

KeyBank accepts certifications from city, state, local, and federal agencies as well as from certifying organizations such as the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC).

Certification FAQs

What is certification?

Minority-owned enterprise (MBE) or woman-owned enterprise (WBE) certifications are granted by public and private agencies to companies that can prove they are at least 51% owned and operated by minorities or women.

The certifications offer a "seal of approval," showing that a company's claim of being a minority or woman-owned enterprise (M/WBE) has been investigated thoroughly by an outside group and found to be true.

What are the criteria for certification?

Basic criteria for certification include:

  • 51% ownership by a woman or women
  • Proof of effective management of the business (operating position, by-laws, hire-fire and other decision-making role)
  • Control of the business as evidenced by signature role on loans, leases, and contracts
  • U.S. citizenship

The business owner will be asked for general information about the business, its history, legal and financial structure. Other documents may include, but are not limited to, customer and bank references, loan activity, financial statements, articles of incorporation, tax returns, stock certificates, resumes, drivers' licenses, and proof of citizenship.

How long does certification take and how much paperwork is involved?

Some certification fees may range as high as $350 and the certification process tends to be stringent, involving significant paperwork and even a site visit. When an organization certifies your business as a women-owned and women-controlled business, it must strictly adhere to national standards to protect the integrity of the certification designation.

Help decrease the time it takes for an organization to certify the business by submitting complete and accurate packages, double-checking every line item, following the checklists provided, and most importantly, by reading the instructions in the certification packet. Certifying agencies generally won't process an incomplete application.

Who certifies women-owned businesses?

There is not one certificate accepted across-the-board — rather than apply to several different groups and go through a costly process for each, investigate which certification is likely to be accepted by the majority of your potential customers. Certifying agencies and resources: