A certified WOSB (Woman Owned Small Business) is, as the name suggests, a diversity certification implemented by the Small Business Association for small businesses that are majority owned by women. Through gaining your certification you wosb certificationare able to have access to a portion of dedicated federal contracts reserved specifically for small businesses owned by women.
A similar certification also implemented by the SBA is an EDWOSB (Economically Disadvantaged Woman Owned Small Business) which serves a similar role, but is specifically reserved for women that come from previously disadvantaged backgrounds.
There were previously two ways for a company to register as a WOSB or EDWOSB; self-certification and third party certification. As of 15 October 2020, however, you will no longer be able to self-certify your business and a third party will have to do so on your behalf.
What qualifies a Certified Woman Business Owner?
To be classified as a WOSB, you will need to meet the following requirements. You will need to be small according to SBA standards, you will need to be 51% owned by women (who must be US citizens). Women must manage day to day operations, make the long term decisions for the business and the highest position in the company must be held by a woman. It is also a requirement for this woman to work full time during normal business hours. As well as the aforementioned requirements, to be considered an EDWOSB, business owners will need to show proof of economic disadvantage in accordance with the requirements set out by the SBA.
The four steps to participate in the WOSB program:
Firstly, you will need to visit the Systems for Award Management (SAM) website at sam.gov and register your business there for free. You will then need to wait at least 72 hours after registering your entity before you can move on to the next step in the process.
Once your business has been registered for over 72 hours, you will then need to visit the SBA’s site at certify.sba.gov and create an account for yourself. This is where you will also run through the checklist on the site before you start the registration process to ensure that you have all of the required documentation at hand. You will need, among other things, your proof of U.S. citizenship, any joint venture agreements and all business registration documentation.
You will fill in the online forms and upload all of the necessary paperwork to the site.
Update your SAM details
Once you have applied and received approval, you will need to then go back to the SAM website to update your registration to the WOSB in order to qualify for any federal contracts.
Third party registration
Given the change in legislation around WOSB has recently come into effect, this is now the only viable way in which to be WBE certified. The process of registration is very much the same, except that there is the addition of a person there to help you through the process. There are only 4 approved third party certifying agencies in the US and these companies manage the registrations in much the same way as self-registration is done, only they provide more support, more advice and they conduct the process for you. This was done to streamline government requests for funding and offer more guidance to entrepreneurs and small business owners. These third party agencies are; National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC), Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce (USWCC)and the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (EPHCC).
Generally, the whole process of getting certified is made much easier by using third party registration, and this whole process – can take up to 90 days, so although it’s more expensive – and it’s sometimes helpful to have some guidance and support on these matters.