How to get certified as a woman-owned small business
Did you know that 5% of all federal contracting dollars are set aside for women-owned small businesses? It's made possible through the SBA's Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program to provide women business owners, including those with economical disadvantages, an opportunity to win government contracts.
The program represents an effort to even the playing field because, although women-owned small businesses employ millions of people in the US and contribute greatly to our economy, they do not receive nearly as many federal contracts as their male counterparts. In 2020, the SBA met its goal for the second time since the creation of the program of awarding at least 5% of all federal contracts to women-owned businesses.
What is the WOSB and EDWOSB certification?
Through the Small Business Administration (SBA), businesses can get certified as a woman-owned small business (WOSB) or economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business (EDWOSB). By doing so, your business will be able to bid on government contracts unavailable to businesses without the certification.
In order for a business to qualify as a WOSB, it must be at least 51% owned and operated by a woman or women. The bulk of day-to-day operations and decision making must be overseen by a woman. The woman or group of women must be US citizens and the business must have no more than a certain amount of employees to qualify as a small business. The number of employees you can have depends largely on your industry. You can use the SBA’s Size Standards Tool to find out more.
If you want to apply for the EDWOSB, the qualifications are a little more stringent. In additional to meeting all of the WOSB requirements, the women who own an EDWOSB must:
- Have a net worth not exceeding $750k each
- Have no more than a $350k adjusted gross income averaged over the last 3 years each
- Personal assets of no more than $6 million each.
For more information, visit the SBA website.
How can I apply?
There are two ways you can go about this. You can apply on your own behalf on the online platform, or you can use a third party to apply for certification. If you choose to go the third-party route, make sure that you use one of the four SBA-approved vendors, which are:
In many cases, business owners choose to use the online system since it is free and relatively easy to use. (The above organizations may charge a fee.) Check out the online application here, which was updated on July 15, 2020. If you’re familiar with the old system, you can still use that until October 15, 2020.
Already a certified WOSB or EDWOSB?
If you are already a certified WOSB or EDWOSB, you may need to get recertified through the new SBA certification process. In this case, you will need to create an account in the system and upload all of your information and documentation in order to maintain your WOSB or EDWOSB certification.
If you’re already in a contract, your certification will be good through the life of the contract in most cases, but check out these guidelines for further information.
Having a WOSB or EDWOSB certification can open a lot of doors for your small business. It’s a great option for woman entrepreneurs to expand their businesses and tap into new opportunities.
For more information on growing your business, check out the Grow Your Business page.