Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the Virginia SWaM Program?
The SWaM Procurement Initiative was established to enhance business opportunities for small, women- and minority-owned businesses and to ensure a level playing field for all small businesses in the Commonwealth of Virginia. SWaM is the acronym for Small, Women- and Minority-owned businesses. A SWaM vendor is a business that has been certified by the Virginia Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity and is listed in the SWaM Vendor Directory
- What are the benefits of SWaM certification?
On August 10, 2006, Governor Timothy Kaine signed Executive Order No. 33 (2006) focusing on enhancing business opportunities for small, women- and minority-owned (“SWaM”) businesses. Governor Kaine set forth a 40% goal of purchases from SWaMs for the Commonwealth and established a Small Business Set-Aside Program, as well as several other initiatives for state agencies and departments to enhance SWaM participation in procurement activities. Becoming SWaM certified includes you in the SWaM Vendor Directory, which is the listing used by state procurement officials to locate SWaM certified vendors. On July 22, 2014, Governor Terence McAuliffe signed Executive Order No. 20, replacing Executive Order No. 33 while continuing and expanding upon the efforts laid out in the original initiative. Governor McAuliffe has set a new target goal of 42% of discretionary expenditures, created the micro business designation and expanded the Set-Aside Program. The executive order created more robust systems for evaluating and monitoring SWaM procurement plans; and seeks to implement processes for producing SWaM subcontracting data and generally brought greater focus to the value of supporting small business in the Commonwealth.
- Is there a cost to become certified?
There is no cost for certification in Virginia.
- What is the definition of “Minority-owned Business”?
As defined in § 2.2-1604 of the Code of Virginia, “Minority-owned business” means a business that is at least 51 percent owned by one or more minority individuals who are U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens, or in the case of a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company or other entity, at least 51 percent of the equity ownership interest in the corporation, partnership, or limited liability company or other entity is owned by one or more minority individuals who are U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens, and both the management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more minority individuals, or any historically black college or university, regardless of the percentage ownership by minority individuals or, in the case of a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company or other entity, the equity ownership interest in the corporation, partnership, or limited liability company or other entity.
- What is the definition of Minority Individual?
“Minority individual” means an individual who is a citizen of the United States or legal resident alien and who satisfies one or more of the following definitions:
1. “African American” means a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Africa and who is regarded as such by the community of which this person claims to be a part.
2. “Asian American” means a person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian subcontinent, or the Pacific Islands, including but not limited to Japan, China, Vietnam, Samoa, Laos, Cambodia, Taiwan, Northern Mariana, the Philippines, a U.S. territory of the Pacific, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, or Sri Lanka and who is regarded as such by the community of which this person claims to be a part.
3. “Hispanic American” means a person having origins in any of the Spanish-speaking peoples of Mexico, South or Central America, or the Caribbean Islands or other Spanish or Portuguese cultures and who is regarded as such by the community of which this person claims to be a part.
4. “Native American” means a person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America and who is regarded as such by the community of which this person claims to be a part or who is recognized by a tribal organization.
- What is the definition of a Small Business?
“Small business” means a business that is at least 51% independently owned and controlled by one or more individuals who are U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens, and together with affiliates, has 250 or fewer employees, or average annual gross receipts of $10 million or less averaged over the previous three years. One or more of these individual owners shall control both the management and daily business operations of the small business.
- What is the definition of a Women-Owned Business?
“Women-owned business” means a business that is at least 51% owned by one or more women who are U.S. citizens or legal resident aliens, or in the case of a corporation, partnership, or limited liability company or other entity, at least 51% of the equity ownership interest is owned by one or more women who are citizens of the United States or legal resident aliens, and both the management and daily business operations are controlled by one or more women.
- Can I be certified as “Service Disabled” or a “Veteran”?
Veterans who are small business owners can obtain Service Disabled Veteran-owned “status” in the SWaM vendor database. This is not a separate certification; it is a designation of those businesses that are owned by Service Disabled Veterans who are certified as such by the Virginia Department of Veteran Services. Veterans wishing to apply for service disabled veteran status must first seek eligibility certification from the Department of Veteran Services by calling (804) 786-0286 or visiting the DVS website at http://www.dvs.virginia.gov. Veterans can apply for small, women-owned or minority-owned certification with the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity before or after obtaining an eligibility certificate from DVS. Both services are available at no charge.
- Should I apply for SWaM or DBE Certification? What’s the difference?
The SWaM Procurement Initiative is a Commonwealth of Virginia program, while the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (“DBE”) Program is a federal certification program under the U.S. Department of Transportation. The DBE Program focuses on Federally-funded projects through the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), and also includes rail, airport and seaport projects, as well as public transit projects. See below for more information on the DBE Program..
- What is a DUNS number and how do I get one?
The Dun & Bradstreet or “DUNS” Number is a unique nine-digit identification sequence, which provides unique identifiers of single business entities, while linking corporate family structures together. It is recognized, recommended and/or required by more than 50 global, industry and trade associations, including the United Nations, the U.S. Federal Government, the Australian Government and the European Commission. In today’s global economy, the D&B DUNS Number has become the standard for keeping track of the world’s businesses. To get a DUNS Number, call 1-866-705-5711 and request for a DUNS number for doing business with federal and state government. There is no charge for the number. You can also go to the Dun & Bradstreet website at http://www.dnb.com/get-a-duns-
- Why do I need an email address?
The Commonwealth of Virginia is quickly moving towards the use of electronic means for communication and for many of its procurement processes. In today’s world, having a computer and an email account is necessary in order to compete with other businesses.
- I don’t have access to a computer. How do I become certified?
The Commonwealth of Virginia is quickly moving towards the use of electronic means for communication with businesses. Many of the Commonwealth’s procurement activities are electronic and having access to a computer with Internet access is vital. Businesses without computer or Internet access are strongly encouraged to obtain such access if they intend to do business with the Commonwealth. If Internet access is unavailable in your area, please contact the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity for assistance. You can also visit your local library or educational institution in your area to use their computers. You will need to obtain an electronic mail account (known as “email”) and can use many of the free services available, such as Yahoo, Hotmail, GMail, or any of the other available services.
- How do I prove that I’m certified as a SWaM business?
Once your certification has been approved, you will receive an electronic approval letter sent to your email address. You can obtain a copy of your listing the SWaM Vendor Director by finding your business listing and printing out that page. You can also present a copy of your electronic approval letter or request a certificate from SBSD. Call the Customer Care Specialist at 804-786-6585 to make this request or email your request to email@example.com
- What is the difference between DSBSD (formerly DMBE) certification and DBE certification?
“SBSD” was the acronym for the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity: the business certification agency for the Commonwealth of Virginia. “DBE” is the acronym for certification under the federal procurement program administered by the U.S. Department of Transportation: the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise program. Becoming SBSD certified means that you are certified by the state and obtaining DBE certification means that you are certified to participate in the federal program for transportation-related projects. See the section DBE Questions below.
Virginia SWAM Program Questions
- What documents should I submit to prove identification and U.S. citizenship?
You must provide:
- A DMV License
- EITHER: U.S. Passport or Birth Certificate, Permanent Resident Card, or Certificate of Naturalization
- Do I need to notarize my application?
No. The notary requirement was eliminated.
- I’ve completed my application online. When will I receive my certification?
The completion of the online application form is only the first step of your application process. You need to sign and date the completed application affidavit and debarment form, upload all required supporting documents, and submit the application online or your application will not be processed.
- What happens after I submit my SWaM certification application?
Once the signed application form and the completed supporting documents are received by our office, it takes approximately 60 business days for the assigned certification officer to review your file. Information about the status of your application, the date of your application, all documents that were received or missing, and any other necessary information being requested can be viewed by entering a certification tracking number or a portion of the company’s name at this page: Click HERE.
- Why must I provide a copy of my business’ Income Tax Return?
The income tax return is used to verify that your business qualifies for SWaM certification in it size and its organization. Any proprietary information and all financial records are confidential and excluded from disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act, Code of Virginia, and Section 2.2-3705.6 (20). In order for financial records to be excluded from disclosure under the Virginia Freedom of Information Act, the business must (1) invoke such exclusion upon submission of the data or other materials for which protection from disclosure is sought, (2) identify the data or other materials from which protection is sought, and (3) state the reasons why protection is necessary.
- I’ve submitted my required supporting documents, now what?
The required supporting documents will then be reviewed by a SWaM Certification Officer for compliance with the eligibility criteria found in the Code of Virginia, Section 2.2-1604, and the Virginia Administrative Code, 7 VAC13-20-10 et seq.
- How else can I prove my ownership and control of the business?
You may be asked to provide or may want to further establish your ownership and control of the business by providing any of the following documents:
- Signed agreements or contracts (e.g., rental agreements, leases, work contracts, or other types of formal written agreements concerning the business)
- Contract or work history of your business (e.g., client list, past project list)
- Resume(s) of all owners, shareholders, partnerships, officers, and/or managers
- Bank signature card, corporate banking resolution, or notarized letter from bank indicating signatory authorization
- How long am I certified?
If your supporting documentation proves your status as a Small, Women- or Minority-owned Business, your certification will be granted for a five (5) year term. At least 30-60 days prior to the expiration of your certification, you must re-certify to maintain your SWaM status.
- How will a state procurement officer or buyer find my business?
Once approved as a SWaM vendor, your business will be listed in the SWaM Vendor Directory. This directory is a listing of all certified small, women and minority-owned firms currently on file with SBSD, along with a description of the products/services they provide. The SWaM Vendor Directory is posted on our website at www.www.sbsd.virginia.gov and accessed by procurement agents of state agencies, as well as other public entities and private corporations, when searching for a SWaM vendor.
- What else can I do to promote my business?
If you have not already done so, we strongly recommend that you register your company with eVA , the state’s online, electronic procurement system. For more information about eVA and getting registered, visit the Vendor Resource Center on the eVA website at http://www.eva.virginia.gov/
- Does certification guarantee that I will receive a state contract?
No, obtaining SWaM certification does not serve as a guarantee of work or that you’ll receive a contract. The Program provides the tools for your business to effectively compete and remove any barriers or limitations in the state procurement process for small, women- and minority-owned businesses. You will still need to aggressively market your business, network, and competitively bid for projects or contracts.
- I am from one of the 12 states listed on the SBSD website that are unable to participate in the Virginia SWaM Program. Why can’t I participate?
The following 12 states and district do not allow Virginia-based businesses to participate equally in their programs for small, women- or minority-owned businesses: Arkansas, California, Connecticut, Florida, Iowa, Louisiana, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Mexico, Ohio, Texas, and Washington, D. C.. Businesses based in these 12 states are not eligible to participate because the Code of Virginia Section 2.2-1606 (8) requires that SBSD deny them participation as a result of their programs or procurement preferences which negatively affect Virginia-based businesses (such as denying them certification or having non-Virginia, in-state preferences or pre-conditions for participation).
- Are Non-profits eligible for SWaM Certification?
Non-profits are not eligible for SWaM certification with the exception of Employment Services Organizations (ESO).
Federal DBE Program Questions
- Should I apply for SWaM first, and then the DBE Program?
Not necessarily, and you need not choose one or the other. You are able to apply for both DBE and SWaM simultaneously.If you intend to apply for DBE Certification, apply for both DBE and SWaM at the same time. Although it is more demanding, by applying for both programs through SBSD simultaneously, you will only need to apply once, you will get both certifications if you are successful, and it will result in less duplicative paperwork.
However, if you are pursuing an opportunity that includes a small business set-aside or a micro business set-aside, it may be more beneficial to apply for SWaM first. The processing timelines for each program are similar, however, the additional steps in the DBE certification process usually results in the overall timeline being longer for DBE.
- I’M already a certified DBE. Should I apply for SWaM?
If it makes sense for your business development and marketing goals, then yes. For example, if you are pursuing an opportunity that includes a small business set-aside or a micro business set-aside, then you must be certified as a SWaM small business and/or a SWaM micro business and should therefore pursue SWaM certification.
- What are the current requirements for notarization of documents?
The Affidavit of Certification, the Affidavit of No Change, and the Personal Net Worth Statement all need to be notarized. Notarization must include date, city/county and state in which notarization was performed. It must also include the notary registration number of the notary public, and the date of expiry of his/her commission. The notary certificate must be on the same page as the signature it is witnessing, and the DBE applicant signing the document must be physically present with the notary and sign in his/her presence. The notary must be certain of the Applicant’s true identity. The seal should be sharp, legible, permanent, and photographically reproducible. For further information, click here.
- How do I apply for DBE Certification?
On this website, go to the DBE Certification page. Download the Uniform Certification Application form and the Personal Net Worth Statement form. If you are an out of state firm applying via the Interstate Process, then download the Interstate Certification Affidavit form. Complete the forms. Get the Application and the Personal Net Worth Statement notarized, and upload them in the online Application Portal with the supporting documentation listed on the Checklist at the back of the Application Form and Submit your application online.
- What are the current requirements for notarization of documents?
The Affidavit of Certification, the Affidavit of No Change, and the Personal Networth Statement all need to be notarized. Notarization must include date, city/county and state in which notarization was performed. It must also include the notary registration number of the notary public, and the date of expiry of his/her commission. The notary certificate must be on the same page as the signature it is witnessing, and the DBE applicant signing the document must be physically present with the notary and sign in his/her presence. The notary must be certain of the Applicant’s true identity. The seal should be sharp, legible, permanent, and photographically reproducible. For further information, click here
- Where can I get the DBE application forms?
They are on this website on the DBE certification page, as well as the Important Forms page.
- I’m SDB / 8(a) certified. Do I need to complete the DBE Application Form as well?
You are required to fill out the UCP application form and submit it with required documents to SBSD. Currently there is no MOU between USDOT and SBA to allow us to modify the DBE application process.
- I’m DBE certified in my Home State. Do I need to complete a new application for Virginia?
Only if you are opting out of the Interstate Process.
If the firm is already DBE-certified in its home state, it does not complete the DBE application (UCA) again IF it is applying via the Interstate Process. If applying via the Interstate process, then in addition to the copy of all documents that were sent to its home state, the firm would need to submit the Interstate Affidavit, the form of which (located on the DBE page of our website) also lists what documents have to be submitted with the Interstate Application Packet.If a firm chooses to opt-out of the Interstate Process, whether because it cannot obtain a complete copy of its home state application file, or for some other reason, it must submit a letter that is signed and dated by the owner and stating that the firm is opting out of the Interstate Process. In this case, the letter should still be uploaded to the space for the DBE Interstate Certification Affidavit, and its application will be processed as if it were an in-state new applicant(including completing a new application for Virginia), with the exception that a copy of the onsite report will be obtained from its home state.
- Why do I need to send all these supporting documents?
We have to ascertain not only who owns the company, but also who controls it on a daily basis. Additionally, we have to check Personal Networth and Company size, in order to comply with the Federal Regulations. If we are challenged on our certification, whether by Federal auditors or a competitor company, we need the documentation on file to support our decisions. Personal financial information is confidential to the DBE Program and may not be disclosed otherwise by us, even in response to a Freedom of Information request.
- What is the purpose of an Onsite Visit?
The main purpose is to confirm what was written in the application and supporting documentation. It gives us a chance to see the business facilities, understand the daily management processes, and answer any remaining questions we have about a company’s eligibility. It gives the company owners the chance to talk face to face with someone who knows about the DBE Program and can answer questions or give other contact information.
- How long does the DBE application process take?
It is likely to take 90 days after we receive all the information and documentation. That includes the time for reviewing the file, making an Onsite Visit and for you to work through the Orientation materials. Most delays are caused by incomplete information or missing documentation.
- What business and technical assistance is available to DBE Companies?
We publish a monthly VSBSD Opportunities Bulletin. VDOT also has a webpage for Business Opportunities. We have Regional Field Officers in our Service Division. They can help with marketing assistance, assistance with resolving business related issues, assessments to determine the strength and weaknesses of firms, preparation of bonding and loan applications, bid opportunity referrals, and help in the preparation of VDOT applications (prequalification and certification). They can also give assistance with technical construction related problems, in reviewing and analyzing highway projects and monitoring pre and post bid activities, and individualized and group training sessions (estimating, bidding, plan reading, and financial statements and marketing).
- What is eVA?
eVA is Virginia’s online, electronic procurement system. eVA is used by more than 13,000 state agency and local government buyers to announce bidding opportunities, get quotes and place orders for goods and services. By registering with eVA, you’ll become part of a community of more than 45,000 businesses offering quality goods and services to the Commonwealth. Learn more about eVA at https://eva.virginia.gov/
- What is Ariba?
The Ariba system is part of eVA and used to send orders electronically. If you select Electronic as your preferred Order Method when registering with eVA, you will be asked to create an ARIBA account. By registering with Ariba you’ll also gain access to Ariba’s vast network of both public and private buying communities, to whom you may also market your goods and services. For more information about registering with eVA and Ariba, visit https://eva.virginia.gov/
- My business is not based in Virginia. Can I still become certified?
Businesses that are not incorporated or based in Virginia (called “foreign” entities) are not eligible to participate in the Virginia SWaM Procurement Initiative if their home state denies certification to Virginia-based SWaM businesses or provide preferences for small, women- or minority-owned businesses based in that state that is not available to Virginia-based businesses. Otherwise, non-Virginia businesses must satisfy the eligibility criteria of the SWaM Program, and are required to register with the State Corporation Commission. For your specific business type, you should register or obtain the following:
- Corporations: Certificate of Authority to Transact Business in Virginia
- Limited Liability Companies: Certificate of Registration of a Foreign Limited Liability Company
- Limited Partnerships: Statement of Registration of a Foreign Limited Partnership
- Partnerships: Statement of Foreign Partnership Authority
- Limited Liability Partnerships: Statement of Registration as a Foreign Limited Liability Partnership
- Do I have to send the original documents?
No. Do not send your original documents, except for the signed application form.
- If I have questions or need help?
Do not hesitate to contact the Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity at (804) 786-6585. You can also contact us via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or read the Frequently Asked Questions about certification on our website at www.www.sbsd.virginia.gov.
- Is there someone that I can speak to directly or in my area?
The Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity has satellite offices across the state staffed with individuals trained in providing assistance to individuals interested in doing business with the Commonwealth. The Business Development and Outreach Services team can help you and their information can be found in the Staff Directory.