SMBCC/SCDOT Memorandum of Understanding (MOU)

If you planning to apply for Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Certification with the SCDOT, please apply with SCDOT first; SMBCC has a Memorandum of Understanding in which if you’re certified with SCDOT, you will be grandfathered in with SMBCC, as long as you’re a South Carolina based business and your personal net worth is under $750,000. Please click here for the DBE application:

South Carolina Unified Certification Program (SCUCP) administered by SCDOT

Definition of Terms

A “Minority Person” means a United States citizen who is economically and socially disadvantaged.

“Socially disadvantaged individuals” means those individuals who are members of the following groups: African-Americans; Hispanic Americans; Native Americans (including individuals recognized as American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts and Native Hawaiians), Asian Pacific Americans, and women.

“A socially and economically disadvantaged small business” means any small business concern which:

  1. Is at least fifty-one (51) percent owned by one or more citizens of the United States who are determined to be socially and economically disadvantaged.
  2. In the case of a concern which is corporation, fifty-one (51) percent of all classes of voting stock of such corporation must be owned by an individual or individuals determined to be socially and economically disadvantaged.
  3. In the case of a concern which is a partnership, fifty-one (51) percent of the partnership interest must be owned by an individual or individuals determined to be socially and economically disadvantaged and whose management and daily business operations are controlled by individuals determined to be socially and economically disadvantaged. Such individuals must be involved in the daily management and operations of the business concerned.

“Small Business” means a concern, including its affiliates, that is independently owned and operated, not dominant in the field of operation in which it is bidding on government contracts, and qualified as a small business under the criteria and size standards in 13 Code of Federal Regulations Section 121 (1989).

MBE is a business which has been certified as a socially and economically disadvantaged small business.

Application Process

Certification as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE)

  1. A business seeking certification is required to be in business for a year. The business start date should be indicated on its Business License or its registration with the Secretary of State.
  2. A South Carolina business seeking certification as a MBE must submit to SMBCC an application and any supporting documentation as may be required. It is the responsibility of an applicant business and its owner(s) to provide information to SMBCC about its economic situation when it seeks certification.
  3. SMBCC will conduct an interview of the owner(s) at their place of business and a site visit of the business as part of the certification approval process.
  4. The Certification Board within SMBCC will determine if the business is controlled and operated by socially and economically disadvantaged individuals. Upon recommendation of the Certification Board, SMBCC will certify the business as a socially and economically disadvantaged small business and issue a Certification as authorized by Section 11-35-5270 of the South Carolina Consolidate Procurement Code.

Certification Board/Procedures:

The Certification Board, as defined below, is responsible for reviewing files and applications in order to determine whether a business should be recommended for approval or disapproval by the Director of the SMBCC (hereinafter referred to as the Director) as a certified business in compliance with Article 21 of the South Carolina Consolidated Procurement Code.

Applications for certification must be addressed to the Director. Upon receipt, SMBCC shall conduct an investigation of the applicant and provide the results to the Certification Board. Failure to furnish requested information will be grounds for denial or revocation of certification.


Eligibility requirements for certification as a MBE are per 19-445-2160 of the South Carolina Procurement Code Regulations and Title 49, Part 26 of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). In order for a firm to be certified, it must be found to be a small independent business owned and controlled by a person or persons who are socially and economically disadvantaged. The following factors will be considered in determining whether the applicant is eligible for certification:

  1. Small Business

    The applicant firm must be an existing “for profit” business. It must also meet the federal definition of a small business based on its primary SIC/NAICS code, as described by the US SBA, and must not exceed the small business size standard established for it’s particular line of work.

  2. Independent Business
    • Recognition of the business as a separate entity for tax or corporate purposes is not necessarily sufficient for certification under Article 21. In determining whether an applicant for certification is an independent business, SMBCC shall consider all relevant factors, including the date the business was established, the adequacy of its resources, and relationships with other businesses.
    • A joint venture is eligible if one of the certified business partners of the joint venture meets the standards of a socially and economically disadvantaged small business and this partner's share in the ownership, control and management responsibilities, risks and profits of the joint venture is at least fifty-one percent, and this partner is also responsible for a clearly defined portion of the work to be performed.
  3. Ownership and Control
    • The business must be fifty-one percent owned by socially and economically disadvantaged persons. The SMBCC will examine closely any recent transfers of ownership interests to insure that such transfers are not to be made for the sole purpose of obtaining certification.
    • Ownership shall be real, substantial and continuing and shall go beyond the pro forma structure of the firm as reflected in its ownership documents. The minority owners shall enjoy the customary incidents of ownership and shall share in the risks and profits commensurate with their ownership interests, as demonstrated by an examination of the substance rather than form of ownership arrangements.
    • The contribution of capital or expertise by the minority or women owners to acquire their interest in the business shall be real and substantial. Examples of insufficient contributions include gifts, inheritance, a promise to contribute capital, a note payable to the business or its owners who are not socially disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged, or the participation as an employee, rather than as a manager.

Disadvantaged owners must be US citizens and meet the federal definition of socially and economically disadvantaged as defined by 49 CFR 26.67. Presumptive groups include “women, Black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans (including American Indians, Eskimos, Aleuts and Native Hawaiians), and Asian Pacific Americans. Personal net worth of a disadvantaged owner cannot exceed $750,000.


SMBCC reserves the right to cancel a certification at any time if a business becomes ineligible after certification. SMBCC will take action to ensure that only firms meeting the eligibility requirements stated herein qualify for certification. SMBCC will also review the eligibility of businesses with existing certifications to ensure that they remain eligible. A business organization's ownership or control can change over time resulting in a once eligible business becoming ineligible. Certified businesses must notify SMBCC in writing within 30 days of changes in organization, ownership, or control. When SMBCC determines that an existing business may no longer be eligible, it will file a Complaint with the Certification Board, and send a copy of the Complaint by certified mail to the business. Upon receipt of such a complaint, the Certification Board shall conduct a hearing in accordance with the procedures set forth in the Administrative Procedures Act (Section 1-23-310, et seq., Code of Laws of South Carolina, 1976, as amended).

SMBCC may revoke the certification of any firm which has been found to have engaged in any of the following:

  1. fraud or deceit in obtaining the certification;
  2. furnishing of substantially inaccurate or incomplete information concerning ownership or financial status;
  3. failure to report changes which affect the requirements for certification;
  4. gross negligence, incompetence, financial irresponsibility, or misconduct in the practice of his/her business; or
  5. willful violation of any provision of Article 21.