May is National Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Heritage Month recognizing the culture, traditions, and history of this minority community.

SCORE is dedicated to helping AAPI entrepreneurs achieve their business goals. 

Today, one in 10 American businesses are owned by Asian Americans or Pacific Islanders. Highly reliant on self and community, their work ethic produces the highest average small business receipts of any ethnic group.

Why Get Certified?

Overall, minority-owned businesses are on the move.

“The number of businesses in our minority communities continues to grow, adding to our competitive advantage.  Over the last ten years, minority business enterprises accounted for more than 50% of the two million new businesses started in the United States and created 4.7 million jobs.  There are now more than four million minority-owned companies in the United States, with annual sales totaling close to $700 billion.

Yet, despite that growth, there is still a disparity when it comes to access to capital, contracting opportunities and other entrepreneurial development opportunities for minority-owned firms.  Though minorities make up 32% of our population, minority business ownership represents only 18% of the population.”   US Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship

In a climate of intense awareness for the fair treatment of all minorities, business certification can open up rewarding contract sales potential.

To help equalize opportunities, federal, state, and local governments and big corporations reserve a percentage of their contracts exclusively for minority-owned businesses. To get your share of the contract pie, however, your business needs to be officially certified as a minority-owned business.

AAPI Opportunities
Becoming an official Minority Business Executive (MBE) allows your business to take advantage of the many networking and educational programs provided by the National Minority Supplier Development Council* (NMSDC). Check with your regional office about business opportunity fairs, leadership training, and networking opportunities.

The official website for federal contracts is called SAM. You need to register your business there so you can bid and receive contracting notices.

Don’t limit yourself to government and corporate contracts. Once you’re certified, make sure you note your business is minority-owned on all your marketing vehicles, including your website, brochures, email newsletters, and communications.

Here’s how to get the certification process started.

Does Your Business Qualify?
To qualify for certification, you must meet these qualifications:

The business owners must be U.S. citizens
The business must be at least 51% minority-owned, operated, and controlled.
The business must be for-profit and physically located in the US or its territories.
The minority owners must participate in the daily management and operations of the business.
Start Locally
Small businesses seeking minority business certification should contact the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC at, which provides a direct link between corporate America and minority-owned businesses and was created to increase procurement and business opportunities for minority businesses of all sizes.  The NSMDC defines a “minority group member” as a U.S. citizen with at least 25 percent minimum with supporting documentation of Asian-Indian, Asian-Pacific, Black, Hispanic and/or Native American heritage. 

Although the organization’s headquarters is located in New York, the NMSDC requires applicants to register and fill out the online application on the website of the regional NMSDC affiliate closest to their business.

Before you start the application, make sure you’ve gathered the required documentation (requirements vary by business type). You’ll need:

Your business history
Certificate of incorporation
Articles of incorporation
Stock certificates and stock ledger
Minutes to the board of director’s and shareholder meetings
Corporation bylaws and amendments
Any agreements and documents regarding ownership, operation, and control of the business
Identification documents for all principals including business cards, resumes, driver’s licenses and proof of U.S. citizenship (birth certificates or U.S. passports only)
Corporate bank resolution agreements and bank signature cards
Business lease agreements/security deeds
Proof of general liability insurance and bonding if applicable
Copies of the businesses’ canceled checks
Completing the online application can be done over time. You can save your progress along the way and return to the application at your convenience.

When you submit the application, you’ll be asked to pay an application fee, the amount of which varies by region.

What’s Next?
Once the required documentation is uploaded to the online portal, you’ll be asked to schedule a site visit and interview. Then you can expect an NMSDC Certification Specialist to reach out for confirmation. Typically, the certification review process can take up to 90 days to complete.

Notification will come via e-mail and US mail when your application is approved. Businesses are required to re-certify annually by providing current tax forms and any changes in contact information. If your application is not approved, you can file an appeal with the Board.

With SCORE by your side, you don’t have to go it alone. SCORE has helped countless AAPI and minority entrepreneurs find success in their small businesses. Set up a mentoring session to get the support you need for your small business!

SCORE can help. Find a mentor today.

Blog:  8 Resources to help AAPI entrepreneurs

Webinar:  Expert Insights for AAPI business owners

*NMDC is a membership organization comprised of small minority-owned businesses and large corporate businesses, both public and privately-owned. The NMSDC’s mission is to promote supplier diversity through education and connect corporate members with minority-owned businesses.

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).

SCORE: Get Certified as a Minority-Owned Business