Updated: Feb 14, 2022
In 2021, the Department of the Treasury announced that they will be indefinitely waiving the $100 filing fee to become certified as a Small, Minority, Woman, or Veteran-owned Business Enterprise (SMWVBE). If you fall into one of these categories, it is now free to certify and recertify your business in New Jersey.
What is a business certification?
A business certification is an official document issued by the state and federal government that grants your business eligibility for certain state, federal and organizational contracts set aside specifically for business owners that fall within marginalized groups.
Do I need one?
A business certification is for you if you would like to expand your opportunities, grow your network, or get into government and organizational contracts. Getting certified will provide you easier and more targeted access to opportunities often out of reach for entrepreneurs of color, and it will open up a wealth of information and resources for you and your business. If you're ready to take your business to the next level and land bigger contracts, it's a good idea to get certified.
How do I get one in New Jersey?
To obtain a business certificate, the first thing you should do is get your documents together. The application portal gives you a list of documents you'll need that I have listed below:
The names and addresses of the owner, partners, or shareholders, as applicable, and their representative shares of ownership
The names and addresses of members of the board of directors, in the case of corporations
The names and addresses of the officers of the business
The number of shares of stock issued and outstanding, in the case of a corporation
The articles of incorporation, bylaws, partnership agreements, or joint venture agreements, as applicable
An applicant's certificate of birth, or motor vehicle driver's license, passport, or other acceptable forms of identification
An affidavit, signed by the individual seeking certification, certifying that the applicant is a minority business or women's business, as defined pursuant to section 2 of P.L. 1986, c. 195 (NJ.S.A. 52:27H-21.18).
Don't let this list scare you, you will already have most of this is information if your business is incorporated. I suggest putting everything into a folder while you accumulate what you need to make things easier on you. Once you have your docs together, visit the portal on the New Jersey Division of Revenue and Enterprise Services website to start your application. You'll see a list of certifications to select, and you can apply for as many as you like in the same application. Make sure to have your EIN, revenue numbers, NAICS Codes, and operations statement handy. You'll answer some qualifying questions and go through the rest of the application. Don't worry if you need to come back, your info will be saved via your My New Jersey log in.
The State of NJ removing this barrier to entry is a gamechanger for entrepreneurs and business owners of color, so take advantage! If you can, connect with others who have gone through the process. Your local SBA/SBDC can help look over your application to make sure you have your i's dotted and t's crossed. You got this!