How to Become a Certified Woman-Owned Business

Mar/14/2023 / by Melanie Fourie
Certified Women Owned Business
Image credits: Yan Krukau via Pexels

Becoming certified as a Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) and qualifying for federal contracting funds opens doors to expansion and funding for women-owned enterprises. The number of firms run by women rose by 21% between 2014 and 2019, as reported in the State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, demonstrating the continued success of female entrepreneurs across all sectors.

Women-owned company certification may help you get lucrative contracts from both the private sector and the government. However, it also opens up a number of additional possibilities. Find out what options are available for certification and how to acquire them.

What does it mean if a company is certified as being women-owned?

There are several certifications for conducting business with the federal government, as well as with local governments and the private sector, that are all part of the women-owned company certification. Certificates come in a variety of forms, including but not limited to:

  • A Woman Owned Small Business (WOSB)  
  • An Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned Small Business (EDWOSB)
  • A Women Business Enterprise  (WBE)

To qualify for most certifications, you’ll need to have at least 51 percent female ownership in your company. Certification as a WOSB or EDWOSB is required if you want to take part in government contracts reserved for businesses owned by women. This certification is recognized by the private sector.

The pros of being a certified woman-owned company

While earning any of these certifications won’t immediately increase your income, they will provide you credibility because of the respect with which they are universally held. Additionally, certification might open doors to other business possibilities. Certification has several advantages, including:

Get the prominence required to compete with more established businesses

There is a lot of rivalry for government contracts. Contracting targets require federal agencies to award a certain proportion of contracts to EDWOSBs and WOSBs.

The NAICS codes for certain industries and sectors are reserved for small businesses that can prove they are at least 51% owned and operated by women (NAICS). In addition to signing up for one database, such as the System for Award Management (SAM)  run by the Department of Defence, you may sign up for many databases. 

One of the many incentives for for-profit corporations to partner with women-owned enterprises is the potential for financial savings. Your company will be more visible to huge organizations that value supplier diversity after it has earned WBE accreditation. Both online (on your site or social media accounts) and offline (at your storefront) promotion of your certificate is acceptable.

Discover new prospects via lead generation

In order to participate in competitive set-aside contracting, you will need a WOSB certification before you can explore prospects and file bids. Added to that, you may win sole-source contracts. When it comes to government contracting, the SBA acts as a guide for small company owners and under-represented groups.

Once you’ve earned your WBE certification, you’ll have entry to an extensive list of Fortune 500 organizations. Supplier diversity-focused companies might be found by searching this list of possible partners.

Make connections

The WOSB program is managed by the Small Business Administration. You may find a mentor and apply to join the Mentor-Protégé Program if your company is     eligible by browsing the DOD Subcontracting Directory.
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s mission is to promote     the success of women-owned businesses and to provide opportunities for women business owners to build relationships at the highest     levels of industry.    

Procedure for Certifying a Woman-Owned Company

The Small Business Administration’s 8(a) program, as well as the SBA itself, 3rd certifiers (TPCs), the Department of Veterans Affairs’ Center for Verification and Evaluation (CVE), and other channels all provide opportunities for EDWOSB and WOSB certification. A list of the four TPCs would read as follows:

  • The US Women’s Chamber of Commerce (USWCC
  • The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (EPHCC) 
  • The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council  – (WBENC)  
  • The National Women Business Owner’s Corporation (NWBOC)

WBENC, NWBOC, and local, county, and state governments are all viable options for obtaining a WBE certification. Each group also offers detailed instructions on how to get certified and apply for the three different types of certifications. You may prove that your company is owned by women if you do the following actions.

Find out if you qualify

Small businesses that are owned and operated by U.S.-citizen women entrepreneurs are eligible to apply for WOSB certification if they also fit the small business criteria. You, as the owner, are responsible for managing day-to-day operations and making strategic choices for the firm.

To qualify for the EDWOSB designation, your business must fulfil the aforementioned criteria:

  • Own less than $750,000 in assets
  • Have a maximum of $6 million in private fortune
  • Earn an annualized adjusted gross income of $350,000 or less for the preceding 3 years
  • Businesses seeking WBE certification must be at least 51% owned by women who are either legal residents of the United States or are U.S. citizens. 
  • The CEO should have substantial technical expertise related to the company’s core competency.

Submit a WBE, WOSB, or EDWOSB application

Application procedures vary per company. Review the forms or get in touch with the following organizations to submit an application for accreditation:

  • Learn more about the SBA’s online application processes by visiting their website.
  • Complete the NWBOC request for WOSB, EDWOSB, or WBE status.
  • Make use of the WBENC online application form to submit your certification request.
  • You may get application details from the USWC.
  • El Paso’s Hispanic Chamber of Commerce may be reached via the city’s Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Business Center.

Collect all necessary paperwork

No matter what kind of certification you’re trying to get, you’ll need a lot of paperwork to back up your application. Checklists and other certification-specific documentation are available for download from the TCP and SBA. These papers include:

  • Women-owned businesses’ confirmation of investment funds
  • The DUNs number is a unique identifier for your company in the
  • Certificates and licenses required to operate a company
  • Documentation verifying your United States citizenship, such as a certified copy of your birth certificate, valid photo identification, or passport.
  • The number that identifies you with your company (EIN)
  • Revenue and Expense Statement (E&S) and Balance Sheet
  • Federal tax returns over the last 3 years

To see the entire list of criteria, to obtain applicant kits, and to understand about organization participation, visit the third-party website or the SBA.

FAQs about Certified Women Owned Business

What are the different types of women-owned business certification?

You may be certified in a variety of ways for example, by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council or as a Woman-Owned Small Business by the SBA’s WOSB Program.

How long does it take to become a certified women-owned business?

You should prepare ahead of time since the time it takes to be certified might vary widely from 15 to 90 days, post the receipt of all required paperwork.


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