Each year, the U.S. government awards at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars to Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSBs). This amounts to millions of dollars set aside for industries where WOSBs are underrepresented — from farming and manufacturing to medical and recreational services, and everything in between. (See the complete list of eligible industries here.)
To qualify for the WOSB Federal Contracting program, a business must:
- Be a small business according to SBA size standards
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens
- Be managed by women on a day-to-day basis who also make long-term decisions
A subset of these contracts is further restricted to Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs). To be eligible as an EDWOSB, a business must meet the WOSB standards and be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with a personal net worth, income, and assets that meet the definition for economic disadvantage. (Full requirements for eligibility can be found here.)
If you’re a woman running her own small business, it’s well worth the time to begin taking advantage of this lucrative program.
Three first steps toward certification
The good news is the certification process for WOSBs and EDWOSBs was revised in 2020 to make it easier for qualified small businesses to participate in the Federal Contracting program. The biggest change is that the self-certification option on the old certify.sba.gov platform is no longer available. Instead, all WOSB and EDWOSB certifications must now be submitted through the Small Business Association’s (SBA’s) new website: beta.certify.sba.gov.
The new site makes it easy to access and navigate each step in the process from start to finish. You can apply for certification directly or use an approved third-party certifier to complete the application online. While the online portal is fairly user friendly, working with a third party can help to speed up the process and prevent common mistakes that may require resubmission.
Whether you’re applying on your own or following expert guidance, there are a few things you’ll need to do first and foremost.
1. Begin by double-checking your eligibility by answering a few simple questions on the site’s questionnaire. This will ensure your business qualifies for federal contracting dollars as a WOSB.
2. Once you’re ready to apply, review the WOSB/EDWOSB checklists which detail all the documents you’ll be required to submit throughout the application process. Gathering the necessary materials ahead of time will help you to complete the application more quickly and easily.
3. Once you’ve gathered all the necessary documentation, you’ll be ready to create an account on the beta.certify.sba.gov homepage using the “Get Started” button at the bottom of the page. You’ll be prompted to obtain a DUNS number and register for a SAM account — but if you already have a DUNS number and SAM account, you can skip straight to “Create Account.” Then simply accept the terms and conditions, enter your email address, and submit.
Once your account has been activated, you’ll be able to log in, claim your business and begin the official application process. This will include basic eligibility questions, ownership verification, and a financial review.
The beta.certify.sba.gov website features a detailed knowledge base including tutorials and other information which can help you navigate the application portal and understand some of the documentation requirements. Experts like those of us at Sage Business Consulting can also help you eliminate the guesswork altogether by leveraging our 25+ years of experience. We’ll help you get set up as a WOSB faster and with less frustration, so you can focus on growing your business.
Learn more about the WOSB Federal Contracting program and see how we can help you get started today with a complimentary consultation.