When in Virginia, go for the SWaM Certification Program

SWAM certification Virginia

America is the land of opportunity and the SWaM program is one proof of it.

The SWaM program stands for small, women-owned and minority-owned business program. It is a program offered by the State Government of Virginia under the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Department of Minority Business Enterprises. Currently, there is no exact federal equivalent of this program.

Although the name implies its target beneficiaries, the program doesn’t cater to a specific group of entrepreneurs. Actually, it is the opposite. The program encompasses not just female-owned business or owners having a minority background. Any business that falls under the State Department’s definitions can qualify, avail and certify for this program. The program also combines minority owned business and women-owned businesses under this category.

Women and Minorities Procurement Exposed

In addition, the program accepts business owners who are veterans with disabilities. Veterans who were disabled during their active service can also be a part of the program. In their case, there should be a “Service Disabled” certification issued by Department of Veterans Services presented upon application. In addition to the certification, veterans should pass all eligibility requirements by the SWaM program.

As a program with a very diverse profile of recipients, it aims to promote equality among entrepreneurs of all backgrounds and create an even playing field for them. This gives an opportunity for many businesses and business owners in Virginia to engage and apply for this program. There is also a larger chance that many businesses can avail of its benefits.

The Certification

The program was originality intended for minority woman owned business as well as other applicable businesses. It also has its certification mechanism called SWaM certification, which can be obtained by any small business in Virginia.
The certification mechanism ensures that the intended beneficiaries of the program will reap the benefits.

To apply for a certification, an online application has to be filled. After accomplishing the form, it needs to be printed, signed and dated. The last step is mailing the application to the Department of Minority Business Enterprises (or DMBE) to process and certify the application. That’s the three-step SWaM certification process.

Sometimes, the DMBE department will also require some documents for identification. These documents are required for both first time and re-certification to the program. Examples include government –issued cards with picture (driver’s license and others) and a passport. A copy of the business Income Tax return might also be needed. These documents should be enclosed with the mailed application.

There is a 30-day waiting period for applying in this program.

After the approval of the certification, the business will appear in the state directory and have the opportunity to participate in government procurement in the State of Virginia. The business will also receive a SWaM certification number.

Once everything is done, the business can reap all the SWaM certification benefits. One benefit is being included in the state DBME directory of businesses or SWaM Vendor Search. The directory serves as the marketplace for businesses that wish to engage in government procurement supplied by the State. The directory offers customized and optimized search for contracts.

Another perk for SWaM certified companies is priority contacts. The State can set aside a group of contracts that are intended solely for businesses in this program. SWaM certified businesses that participate in this program can also have the advantage of getting the contact even if the businesses didn’t give the lowest bid or the most successful offer. For contracts or work that amount to $5000, a participating SWaM business can provide the service.

Small businesses in Virginia can also re-certify by going through the application process and modifying some information from their previous entry. After supplementing new information, the application process is still the same.

Final Note

It should be noted that this program is only available for the state of Virginia and only small businesses in Virginia are allowed to participate. There is no mechanism or policy that allows small businesses from other states to join.

Businesses that are certified can only do businesses with the state government. Although some businesses in this program might not earn the same profit compared to small businesses doing federal procurement, the SWaM program is a good starting point for any Virginia-based small business. The program as well as the state procurement office and system can provide experience for Virginian entrepreneurs before going to federal level. In addition, the diversity of businesses enlisted in the system can provide good networking and exposure.

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