Small, woman-owned and minority-owned (SWaM) businesses are encouraged to be certified through the Virginia Department of Small Business & Supplier Diversity (SBSD).  SWaM certification can be a valuable tool for home-based businesses as it can be a resource for new business opportunities. Sometimes, government agencies including universities are required to present opportunities to SWaM certified businesses during their procurement process and being certified can help a business receive a contract.

To qualify as woman-owned or minority-owned, a business must be at least 51 percent owned by a woman or minority who are United States citizens or legal residents and whose management and control are by one or more women or minorities. Minority classifications break down into African American, Hispanic American, Asian American (including Pacific Islanders) and Native American.

The SWaM Program was established in 2006 to enhance opportunities for small businesses and minority- and woman-owned businesses in the Commonwealth of Virginia through contracting and procurement opportunities. The SWaM Program is managed by the SBSD and is free. Certifications last for five years from their approval date. SBSD has a Certification Division. Information on how to apply is available on the SBSD website or by emailing From time to time, SBSD hosts workshops about SWaM certification.

Recently, SBSD completed its 2020 Disparity Study, which “assessed whether woman- and minority-owned (WAM) businesses face any barriers as part of the Commonwealth’s contracting processes.” This study has a lot of interesting information that may be valuable for your home-based business.

All SWaM certified businesses are featured in an online directory managed by SBSD.

Additionally, there are some other certifications provided by the SBSD including Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE), Service Disabled Veterans and micro business certifications.

We strongly encourage businesses to become receive any SBSD certifications that they may be eligible for.