To kick off the New Year, we will start focusing on resources available to help specific categories of owners by the Federal Government. No, there aren’t any grants for small businesses, but there are programs that help.
To help provide a level playing field for women business owners, the government limits competition for specific contracts to businesses participating in the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program.
These contracts are for goods and services in specific industries (identified via the NAICS code) where WOSBs are underrepresented. Some contracts are restricted further to economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs). SBA maintains a list of those eligible industries and their NAICS codes.
Joining the WOSB Federal Contract program makes a business eligible to compete for federal contracts reserved for the program’s certified participants. These contracts are known as “set-asides.” Provided they qualify, WOSB-certified firms can still compete for contract awards under other socio-economic programs, including 8(a) and HUBZone.
It is important to note that WOSB certification benefits only apply to federal contracting opportunities rather than those in the private sector.
Get certified as a WOSB
Before firms can compete for WOSB set-aside contracts, they must apply for certification on WOSB.Certify.sba.gov. This certification site can also help firms:
- Understand the certification process
- Access checklists that provide guidance prior to applying
- Explore their company’s eligibility
- Request information from SBA program experts
- Create an account and proceed with their application
Note: When you create an account, you will be automatically directed to a new screen to access login.gov. This is a secure platform for creating new account logins. Please be advised that SBA-approved third-party certification (TPC) does not automatically activate a firm’s WOSB eligibility. If a firm chooses to go through an SBA-approved TPC, they must still visit WOSB.Certify.sba.gov and submit proof of US citizenship, along with their valid TPC-WOSB or EDWOSB certificate. For more information on the application process, please review the information available on WOSB.Certify.sba.gov, including:
Program eligibility requirements
To be eligible for the WOSB Federal Contract 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
- Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions
To qualify as an EDWOSB within the program, a business must:
- Meet all the requirements of the WOSB Federal Contract program
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with a personal net worth of less than $750,000
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with $350,000 or less in adjusted gross income averaged over the previous three years.
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each $6 million or less in personal assets.
Economic disadvantage standards have been aligned between the 8(a) Business Development program and the WOSB Federal Contract program. Please note that funds invested in an official retirement account are excluded from the assessment of an economically disadvantaged individual’s personal net worth in both programs. 8(a) firms interested in pursuing EDWOSB certification may provide their most recent annual review letter (or acceptance letter, if in their first year) by applying at WOSB.Certify.sba.gov.
SBA also allows participation from firms certified by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Center for Verification and Evaluations (CVE), provided they meet all eligibility requirements. Firms must provide their CVE certificate and supporting documentation through WOSB.Certify.sba.gov.
Eligibility requirements for WOSB or EDWOSB qualification are fully defined in Title 13 Part 127 Subpart B of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). Firms can also get a preliminary assessment of whether they qualify at WOSB.Certify.sba.gov.
I encourage everyone who is eligible to get certified and participate in the program.
Wishing you the greatest success,