What is DOBE Certification?
DOBE Certification stands for “Disabled Owned Business Enterprise.” This certification acknowledges businesses that are majority-owned (at least 51%) by an individual(s) with a disability. The program aims to promote the growth of disabled entrepreneurs, recognizing their unique perspectives and contributions to the business world.
The Origins of DOBE Certification
The late 20th century saw numerous legislative milestones for individuals with disabilities, most notably the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) of 1990. While the ADA focused on prohibiting discrimination, there was a growing recognition that proactive measures were needed to promote economic empowerment for disabled individuals.
In the early 2000s, advocacy groups and industry leaders began pushing for a structured program that would offer businesses owned by individuals with disabilities a platform similar to other minority-owned enterprise programs. Their efforts culminated in the formalization of the DOBE Certification, championed by organizations like Disability:IN.
The DOBE Certification was not just about acknowledging the business prowess of disabled entrepreneurs but also about shifting societal perceptions. By creating a structured pathway for recognition and support, the program has played a pivotal role in showcasing the successes and capabilities of disabled entrepreneurs, thereby challenging stereotypes and fostering a more inclusive business environment.
Why Get Certified?
- Increased Business Opportunities: Many corporations and government agencies have supplier diversity programs that prioritize doing business with certified diverse-owned enterprises, including DOBEs.
- Networking & Development Opportunities: DOBE certification often grants access to training, conferences, and networking events tailored to diverse business owners.
- Visibility & Recognition: Being DOBE certified enhances the company’s reputation as a diverse-owned enterprise, drawing attention from potential partners and clients who value diversity and inclusion.
- Access to Exclusive Contracts: Some corporations and governmental entities have set-aside contracts or procurement goals specifically for DOBE-certified businesses.
How to Get Certified
The certification process ensures that the benefits reach genuine disabled entrepreneurs who actively manage their businesses.
- Business must be at least 51% owned, managed, and controlled by an individual(s) with a disability.
- The owner with a disability must be involved in the day-to-day operations of the business.
- The company must be independent, with its management and daily operations controlled by the disabled owner.
- Prepare Documentation: This includes proof of the owner’s disability, business ownership documents, and any other relevant certifications or identifications.
- Submit Application: Complete and submit the certification application to an accredited certifying agency, often alongside a nominal fee.
- Undergo Review: The certifying agency will review the application, which might involve interviews, site visits, or further documentation requests.
- Receive Certification: Once approved, the business receives its DOBE certification, which typically requires periodic renewal or revalidation.