Who qualifies for certification as a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise?

A Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) is a firm located in the United States that is 51 percent or greater owned and controlled by a woman or person or persons belonging to designated minority groups (see groups listed below). Certification is valid on all contracts bid by the city that specify the utilization of DBE subcontractors and on projects bid by other municipalities in Maricopa County that specify the use of minorities or women. 

Certification also is valid for city contracts that include funding from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Federal Transit Administration (FTA) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Criteria for DBE Certification

Businesses that meet the following criteria qualify for certification as Disadvantaged Business Enterprises:

Group Membership

Business owners that are U. S. citizens or permanent legal residents and are members of the following ethnic/gender groups:

African-American males and females
Native-American males and females
Caucasian females
Asian-American males and females
Hispanic males and females


Qualifying applicants must own at least 51 percent of the business. The owner(s) must have the day-to-day control of the firm and have experience and expertise in the firm’s primary area of operation. The applicant must hold a proportionate share of the business’ capital, assets, profits and losses commensurate with their ownership interest.

Business Size

The gross receipts of the firm, when averaged over a three-year period, must not exceed gross income limitations for that type of business activity as identified by the U. S. Small Business Administration.

Economic Disadvantage

The personal net worth of the 51 percent or greater owner must not exceed $1.32 million in order to show economic disadvantaged eligibility for DBE certification. The owner’s equity interest in their personal residence and the value of the owner’s interest in the applicant business is not included when calculating the personal net worth for purposes of certification.

For more information and to access application materials, visit phoenix.gov/certify or call 602-262-6790.