Supplier Diversity and Certification


Supplier diversity entered the American business landscape in 1968 when the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) established a program to channel certain government purchases to disadvantaged owners of small businesses. The following year, the Office of Minority Business Enterprise was established within the U.S. Department of Commerce to oversee tis initiative. In 1972, the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC) was founded to certify that businesses were minority-owned.


The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is dedicated to advancing the success of certified women’s business enterprises and corporate members in partnership with its Regional Partner Organizations. WBENC’s goal is to foster diversity in the world of commerce. Its programs and policies are designed to expand opportunities and eliminate barriers in the marketplace for women business owners. Benefits of WBENC certification include access to a current list of supplier diversity and procurement representatives from hundreds of corporations and government entities. Visit WBENC for more information at

The National Minority Supplier Development Council Inc  (NMSDC) is one of the country’s leading corporate membership organizations. If you are a minority business owner seeking MBE certification, contact one of the NMSDC’s affiliated regional councils for more information at

Certification organizations such as WBENC and NMSDC provide companies with a way verify that small businesses qualify for their supplier diversity programs as 51 percent owned, controlled, and managed by a woman or a minority.

Doing Business with PennDot

If you are a Minority, Women, Veteran or Service Disabled Veteran Owned business that wants to do business with PENNDOT, contact Mark Corbin, Director of the SBE Supportive Services Center at or 610-399-2178. The Center is a shared initiative between the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation and Cheyney University of Pennsylvania. Check back for information on upcoming seminars taking place at the Harrisburg Regional Chamber & CREDC and presented by the SBE Supportive Services Center.

Doing Business with the Commonwealth

The Bureau of Minority and Woman Business Opportunities within the Department of General Services has been renamed to The Bureau of Small Business Opportunities (BSBO). The BSBO  has the responsibility to assist small businesses and small diverse businesses, including minority business enterprises, women business enterprises, veteran business enterprises, and service-disabled veteran business enterprises, in competing for Commonwealth contracting opportunities.

As of August 2012 the BSBO no longer certifies Small Diverse Businesses.  The bureau will instead verify certifications from third party entities including: The Unified Certification Program (UCP); The National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC); The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC); The United States Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(A) Business Development Program; and the Vetbiz VIP Verification Program (

For more information on verifying your company as a Small Diverse Business and to learn more about the Commonwealth’s Small Business Procurement Initiative (SBPI), visit

Doing Business with the City of Harrisburg

Click here  for a directory of MBE/WBE/ DBE contractors and other businesses  listed with the Department of  Building & Housing Development and Bureau of Economic Development. This directory is current as of May 2013.  For more information, contact the City of Harrisburg at (717) 255-6419

It’s important for small businesses to understand that certification is just the beginning – women and minority entrpeneurs must combine their certification with smart, innovative strategies to market themselves and enhance their skills in order to be competitive.

Contact the Chamber & CREDC at (717) 232-4099 to be connected with with executives and business owners who have successfully navigated the supplier diversity waters.