The DBE (Disadvantaged Business Enterprise) program started with Surface Transportation Assistance Act of 1982, which set a national goal of placing at least 10% of federal highway and transit funds with persons who qualify as disadvantaged small business operators. A subsequent act in 1987 included women.
Who Qualifies as a DBE?
Any small business at least 51% owned, operated and fully controlled on a daily basis by a member or members of the groups listed on this page qualifies. Unified Certification Program
In the case of publicly held firms, a member or members of the listed groups must own at least 51% of the stock issued.
Individuals who are not members of one of the groups above can be found to be socially disadvantaged as defined by Appendix E of 49 CFR Part 26. Electronic Code of Federal Regulations 49 CFR Part 26.