Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprise Office

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Charleston’s Minority & Women-Owned Business Enterprise Office                 (M&WBE) strives to increase participation of minority and women-owned business enterprises in the full array of contracting opportunities                                                                               available in the City of Charleston.

Assistance Provided

The M&WBE office assists potential entrepreneurs & existing small business owners through:

  • Business growth and expansion
  • Resources related to business start-ups
  • M&WBE certification to enhance contracting opportunities
  • Access to financial opportunities through our business database
  • Guidance and counseling on management skills and operational effectiveness
  • Local skills-based training opportunities 

The office maintains a current listing of MBE/WBE vendors for referral and distribution:

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Other agencies maintain similar directories, including the two linked below.

smdcc database
scdot database
  1. M&WBE Certification
  2. Small Business Workshops
  3. M&WBE Spotlight

Get M&WBE Certified!

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Check-out our MWBE Get Certified Brochure!

The City of Charleston has established goals for the utilization of women and minority-owned businesses. 

Certification Benefits Include:

  • Official validation of MWBE status
  • Participation in official MWBE contracting opportunities that require certification.
    1. Access to City of Charleston Procurement, Stormwater Management, and Capital Projects contracts through BIDLINE: www.charleston-sc.gov/BIDLINE 
    2. Register as a City of Charleston vendor: https://www.charleston-sc.gov/130/Procurement-Division
  • Inclusion in the City’s public MWBE Database
  • Marketing opportunities through the City’s MWBE Spotlight program
  • Training and business development
  • Technical assistance
  • Direct referrals to local business experts & other diversity programs

Who Qualifies:

Minority-Owned Businesses: A business owned and managed by an individual who is Black or African American, Hispanic or Latino, Native American, Asian American, or Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander. This individual must actively oversee the daily operations of the business and control a majority (51% or greater) ownership stake.

Woman-Owned Businesses: A business owned and managed by a woman who actively oversees its daily operations and controls a majority (51% or greater) ownership stake.

Applicants must be citizens of the United States and have owned the business for at least one (1) full year. The gross revenue of the business concerned must not exceed $7.5 million. The personal net worth of the applicant cannot exceed $1.32 million, excluding the value of their primary residence and the business they are applying to have certified.

*Out of State Businesses: Businesses applying from outside the state of South Carolina must submit documentation of reciprocal certification through an official local, state, or federal program (ex. State DOT, SCDOT, SBA, State/Local MWBE). The MWBE Manager will determine if the reciprocal certification meets the City of Charleston’s requirements.

How To Apply:

  • Download and complete the fillable MWBE Certification Application 
    1. This application must be signed and notarized
  • Attach the following documentation:
    1. Copies of signed Federal Tax returns showing gross business receipts for the last two years (unless you have only been in business for one year)
    2. Copy of any current applicable business license(s) and certifications
    3. Copy of owner’s current ID, front and back (i.e., driver’s license, ID card)
    4. Copy of a current deed, rental, or lease agreement showing business address
    5. Copies of organizational documents filed with Secretary of State (if applicable)
    6. Current reciprocal local, state, Department of Transportation, or Federal certification
      • This is required for applicants outside the state of South Carolina
      • Reciprocal certification may expedite the certification process for in-state applicants
  • Email the completed application and all attachments to mwbe@charleston-sc.gov or mail to the city's M&WBE Office.

M&WBE Re-Certification 

Renewal will be for 5 years upon review and verification of the above information.

  • Complete MWBE Certification Application (check "Recertification" box)
  • Provide 2 years of business Income Taxes (signed 1st and last pages only, K-1/K-2, M-1/M-2, and/or schedule “C” forms)
    1. The documentation you submit must show gross business receipts and ownership information for both years
  • Attach a copy of Expired Certification
  • Photo ID, front and back
  • Current Lease
  • Current Business License (if applicable)

Out of State Companies

If you are an out of state company looking to do business with the City of Charleston and be placed in our database of M&WBEs, you MUST:

  1. Submit documentation of reciprocal certification through national, state, or your local government (ex. State DOT, SBA, State MWBE, etc.)
    • The MWBE Manager will determine if the reciprocal certification meets the City of Charleston’s requirements.
  2. Meet all the M&WBE Certification requirements: Race, gender, income, at least one (1) year in business, etc.
  3. Complete the City of Charleston’s MWBE Certification Application and provide all required documents.

*Check out our Why Be M&WBE Certified? PPT Guide in Spanish! Please note some requirements have changed since this presentation was recorded. 

SBA logo

The U.S. Small Business Administration  helps provide a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities. The government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the 8(a) Business Development program.


SizeUpSC is an easy-to-use platform that allows you to receive data to help your company make better decisions around competitive benchmarking, customers, suppliers, even marketing and advertising.


SCORE fosters vibrant small business communities through mentoring and education. SCORE can help with creation of a business plan,  find financing including small business loans or grants to grow your business,  create a digital marketing campaign, and more!

Minority Business Development Agency is an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce that promotes the growth of minority-owned businesses through the mobilization and advancement of public and private sector programs, policy, and research.

The S.C. Division of Small and Minority Business Contracting and Certification (SMBCC) connects minority- and women-owned small businesses to State contracting and procurement opportunities through the Material Management Office (MMO), while working with State agencies to implement and monitor minority-contracting programs in accordance with applicable policies, laws, and regulations.


CLIMB Fund is a not-for-profit Community Development lender whose mission is to ensure access to capital for small businesses and affordable housing developments that cannot secure traditional financing. Based in Charleston and serving the entire state of South Carolina, CLIMB Fund has more than 40 years of history lending to entrepreneurs who have been turned away by for-profit banks. 


Carolinas-Virginia Minority Supplier Development Council is a non-profit corporation chartered to enhance business opportunities by providing support through developing mutually beneficial networking opportunities with corporate members and promoting minority business development.