MBE, WBE, DBE, & SBE: What Do All These Acronyms Mean?

Understanding business acronyms is important if you are a business owner. Some businesses choose to use labels as these designations are important. For example, did you know that the government can offer priority to businesses with specific designations? Disadvantaged and minority businesses are often on the receiving end of priority treatment, and understanding the right acronyms can make the difference between whether your business gets additional help or even grants. Below, we’ve put together a list of the most common business acronyms to help you to determine which your business fits.

SBE: Small Business Enterprise

This is independently owned and operated and isn’t dominant in the field of operation in which it bids on government contracts. An SBE qualifies as a small business in the primary NAICS code and the affiliates of the small business are independently owned, too.

WBE: Women Business Enterprise

This particular acronym explains itself! This is a business concern owned 51% and more by women. A WBE is considered a minority business enterprise, too, so is likely to gain priority for contracts. The business formation and principal place of business must also be on US territory and the management or daily operation has to be controlled by one or more women at a time.

MBE: Minority Business Enterprise

These are a for-profit business enterprise – no matter the size – that is located physically in the US or the surrounding trust territories. It must be owned and operated by a minority group and controlled by minority group members. These are US citizens who are:

  • African-American 
  • Hispanic-American
  • Native American
  • Asian-Pacific American

Those who own a business and are from these backgrounds must be 51% of the controllers of the business. At least 51% of the stock must also be owned by minority business leaders. 

DBE: Disadvantaged Business Enterprise

This is a business type that refers to minority ownership and it often includes those who are residents of areas that are economically depressed. Depending on the legislation of the government, this can include white women but it depends on the country.

HUB Businesses

This defines the underutilized options for businesses in a low income area that is known as the HUB zone. There are some HUB programs across the United States, and they refer to groups that haven’t participated in government contracts before. This includes some small businesses as well as minorities and women, too.

Dealing with government contracts as a project management company isn’t always simple, but the definition of your business makes a difference. All certifications come from a government agency, and you don’t have to pay any money for that certification. Private certifications for women and minorities can be done through a non-profit organization for a smaller fee. Private businesses use these acronyms, rather than government contracts. You can also use government programs to identify opportunities for contracts for free, too. Understanding which acronym suits your business can make a difference to your success and whether you will be considered as a priority for the government agencies. Take the time to do the research!