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Certified Access Academy

Increasing opportunities to do business with government and corporate entities

Certified Access Academy is a cohort-based training opportunity to support businesses owned by women of color in their efforts to become certified to compete for government and corporate contracts.

Participants will join a virtual cohort for eight weeks of focused consulting and technical assistance to navigate the certification process and the government and corporate supplier ecosystem. Getting certified helps small businesses compete for contracts with large firms, especially those with requirements to source from small and disadvantaged business enterprises.

Hennepin County fully covers the cost of participation for businesses based in the county, a $4,500 value.

The program will provide members with:

  • Culturally informed consulting
  • Business operations resources and training
  • Guidance identifying the right certifications
  • Technical assistance to complete certifications
  • Access to a procurement and supplier network

Business owners will exit the program ready to compete for government and corporate procurement opportunities.


"I decided to join (Certified Access Academy) to ensure that my consulting firm continues to grow and thrive. As a result of my certification, and now my recertification, I have opened new lanes of revenue, thus not relying on personal referrals. Having the resources to walk me through this process was invaluable.”

— Kristin, a Certified Access Academy alum


Who is eligible?

Businesses in Hennepin County owned by women of color and interested in attaining certification as a minority, small, women, and/or disadvantaged business enterprise.

About the facilitation team

Hennepin County is pleased to sponsor Certified Access Academy, founded by The Activate Network and Fearless Commerce. Fearless Commerce was launched in 2017 with the aim of accelerating the sustainability of women of color-owned businesses with tools and resources to strengthen back-office operations.

The Activate Network is an event and workshop host that caters to Black women and women of color, offering a culturally affirming space for professionals, entrepreneurs, and business leaders.

How to apply

Certified Access Academy will be offered up to two times per year, space is limited. Applications are now open for the next academy, which starts February 1. 

To be added to the waitlist for the next cohort, complete this form


Hennepin County Business Navigators