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Obtaining Certification as a Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise

A goal of ours for at least ten years was to become certified as a Minority and Women-owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) within the City of New York, and we are proud to say we’ve officially done it! Deborah Miller Catering is now certified as an M/WBE, something that holds significant meaning to us, to the city, and to our clients. Here’s what it all means and how we obtained this important title.

What is MWBE Certification?


The M/WBE was created in 2005 in New York City and allows for minority and women-owned businesses to have access to various government contracts, increased visibility, exclusive events and courses, and other opportunities to give these businesses a leg up in their industry. A public online listing allows anyone to search for a company’s name or for specific industry keywords and find organizations that are certified in what someone is looking for.
According to the NYC Business website, the requirements for obtaining an M/WBE certification are as follows:

1. The business is legally authorized to transact business in New York State.

2. The business has been in operation (i.e., selling goods and/or services) for at least one year.

3. At least 51% of the business is owned, operated and controlled by a U.S. Citizen(s) or U.S. permanent resident(s) who are women and/or members of designated minority groups including:
Black
Hispanic
Asian-Pacific
Asian-Indian
Native American

4. The business has one of the following legal structures:
Sole proprietorship
Limited liability company (LLC)
Corporation
Limited liability partnership (LLP)
Limited Partnership (LP)
General Partnership
Not for Profit Organizations are ineligible.

5. The business' principal office, place of business or headquarters is located within the five boroughs of New York City or in one of the following counties of New York and New Jersey:
Nassau
Putnam
Rockland
Westchester
Suffolk
Bergen
Hudson
Passaic

While the application is free, as with any legal certification, there is a lot of paperwork to be completed! The unfortunate onset of the coronavirus finally freed up some time to get this task checked off the list. “Like most companies within the food and hospitality industry, coronavirus completely halted our usual work flow and pace of business here in the city,” owner Deborah Miller shares. “But I suppose the silver lining is that we finally had the time to submit this application for something Lauren (co-owner) and I have been wanting for a long time. Betty Lee, our Head of Finance who has been with the company for many years, helped facilitate the process and got our paperwork together in a quick and timely manner. We’re so excited about this and look forward to see what opportunities will come from being certified as a M/WBE.” Terms for M/WBE certification vary from city to city and state to state, but in New York City, once you are MWBE certified you do not have to renew for another five years, and the renewal process is
free as well.

Why is it Important to be MWBE Certified?

Now that we are part of this group of businesses, we are eligible for certain government contracts that we would not have been considered for in the past. For example, if the Mayor’s Office is hosting a luncheon or a banquet of some sort and they need a caterer, as an M/WBE, we have the opportunity to be considered and to obtain the contract for that event. More business in untapped fields leads to more exposure, and the possibilities are truly endless, especially as the need for contactless bento box catering and grab and go food options increases during this pandemic, which we have already created menu offerings for.

Clients also love an organization that is M/WBE-certified. We can’t tell you the number of calls we’ve gotten from customers, both new and existing, who have inquired as to whether or not we have the MWBE certification. Fellow women, in particular, find it very significant and are more inclined to work with a business that has a MWBE certification, especially for events centered around International Women’s Day and other significant dates that celebrate women. We are honored to have obtained this certification and be added to the growing list of minority or women owned businesses who work so hard for their businesses to flourish. We look forward to seeing what the future holds and the opportunities that come our way, even in these uncertain and somewhat scary times.

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