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For a Minority-Owned Business, Is the NHO Certification Helpful?

A minority-owned business can leverage a variety of programs designed to help them obtain government contracts. One such program is the Native Hawaiian Organization-owned, or NHO, certification.

By obtaining this designation, your organization can qualify for participation in the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) 8(a) business development program. This program is designed to assist disadvantaged companies compete in the marketplace and provide increased access to private and government contracting opportunities.The NHO certification can be very helpful for your organization, although it takes a considerable amount of time to apply.

NHO certification

Can Your Minority-Owned Business Get NHO Certification?

To qualify for NHO certification, your organization must meet one of the two following criteria established by the SBA.

It must be:

  • An organization controlled by Native Hawaiians (both the organization and its board must be at least 51 percent Native Hawaiian)

  • A Hawaii-based nonprofit community service organization controlled by Hawaiians whose principal business activities benefit Hawaiians.

For the purpose of obtaining government contracts, most organizations seeking the NHO designation fall into the first category of criteria.

The SBA defines a Native Hawaiian as any individual whose ancestors were native to the Hawaiian Islands prior to 1778.

Is the NHO or Another Minority-Owned Business Certification Best for You?

If your organization qualifies for NHO certification, you can derive several significant benefits from the SBA 8(a) program, including mentoring and business counseling, training programs, marketing and business development guidance, management and technical assistance, and surety bond guarantees.

In addition, your business may be eligible for set-aside work designated for award to minority-owned and small, disadvantaged organizations.

Other SBA certifications include Alaska Native Corporation (ANC), Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB), Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB) and a variety of Small Disadvantaged Business (SDB) designations.

Your organization may qualify for more than one certification; however, the SBA only allows organizations to participate in the 8(a) program in one category. Consequently, you will have to determine which certification is best for your organization.

How Do You Get an NHO Minority-Owned Business Certification?

As compared to other small or disadvantaged organizational certifications, the NHO program has some added requirements and restrictions. Specifically, the SBA requires NHO entities to use the profits from 8(a) projects for the betterment of their communities rather than the enrichment of the company’s owners, directors or members.

To obtain this certification, you must apply using the SBA NHO certification application.

You can learn more about this program on the SBA 8(a) NHO information site. Unfortunately, the SBA information can seem confusing and overwhelming for many small business owners.

For help and guidance regarding the NHO and other SBA 8(a)-eligible certifications, you can contact the SBA directly or seek help from a professional proposal management company.

Meridian West Consultants provides proposal management as a part of our comprehensive business development services. From opportunity tracking and bid/no-bid analysis to proposal writing and content management, we assist businesses in meeting their goals for growth and profitability by helping them win private and federal contract awards. Contact us today to learn how you can obtain the NHO or another minority-owned business certification.

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