Every year, government agencies spend billions on goods and services. That’s a lot of money to be spent on supplies, services, and equipment! It’s also an opportunity for women-owned businesses to get a piece of these procurement dollars.
Whether you are just starting a female-owned business or looking for more information on the available resources, the following information will help you start or advance your business and take advantage of government contracting opportunities.
What are the advantages of women-owned businesses?
For women, owning a business can be a productive and satisfying alternative to working for a paycheck while giving them the chance to pursue their passions. Also, it gives them freedom from the barriers that limit how much women business owners can earn and how high they can achieve at many corporations.
1. There’s a rise of many unique resources for female entrepreneurs
There are multiple benefits of becoming a certified women business enterprise or a woman-owned small business (WOSB). However, you must meet specific requirements. For example, companies must at least have 51% ownership by a female. Further, WOSB certifications are obtained from the Small Business Administration (SBA). Meanwhile, WBE certifications are awarded by federal, local, or state agencies.
One thing notable is that businesses should be WOSB-certified to be able to compete for federal funding programs. After getting certified, women-owned businesses will enjoy the advantages of getting financial assistance and opportunities and winning government contracts. SBA makes it more favorable as they have announced that their goal is to set aside an award at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses annually.
Aside from federal agencies, there are also hundreds of other companies in the private sector with grants dedicated to female-owned businesses. The grant money may vary from $2000 to $150,000. Some of them are:
- Cartier Women’s Initiative Awards
- Kitty Fund
- Asian Women Giving Circle Grants
- Sage Invest in Progress Grant
2. Access new markets
Certifications can open up new work sections and attract more clients. The Small Business Administration also started implementing the WOSB federal contracting program to increase opportunities for women-owned businesses in winning federal contracts, focusing on industries where WOSBs are marginalized.
SBA-certified WOSBs and EDWOSBs have a unique opportunity to penetrate markets, including home health care and temporary help services, transportation support, and electronic computer manufacturing.
Women-owned businesses can also play an essential role in fostering diversity within organizations and communities, bringing a more balanced perspective to decision-making processes often dominated by white men.
3. Female leadership is becoming in demand in most companies
Female leadership is becoming in demand in most companies. This is because women make up almost half of the percentage of the workforce, and many businesses realize that this can be beneficial to them. Here are some ways that being a female-owned business can benefit your company:
Higher retention rates
Companies with female leadership tend to have higher retention rates than those without it. This means they are less likely to lose employees and have a more positive environment overall. Also, this makes it easier for companies to retain their employees and keep them happy, which leads to better customer service for their clients and customers.
Increase in sales
Statistics have shown that female-led companies tend to see increased sales over time compared to other businesses. Women tend to be more sensitive toward their customers’ needs and wants, which helps them sell more products or services than other businesses would be able to sell without these qualities in their leaders.
4. Access exclusive career-building tools and training programs
The Small Business Administration oversees the WOSB programs, and the certified business has access to mentoring opportunities through locating mentors, applying, and searching DoD’s subcontracting directory.
WBE also has access to all these resources because it’s WBENC’s goal to advocate for women business owners and connect them with network leaders. There are many entrepreneurship activities for these individuals, such as
- Salute event
- Marketing events
- Keynote speeches
5. Beneficial for new clients
Having a WBE supplier can also reduce tax liabilities for the state- and federal-funded projects. The federal government grants tax incentives to companies with female- and minority-owned business affiliates. Further, diverse and smaller companies can be more agile and innovative, a silver lining for their partners by taking them in more promising and novel directions than larger competitors.
What is a WOSB contract?
The women-owned small business federal contract program provides opportunities for WOSBs eligible to compete for set-aside contracts with women-owned businesses. The program also provides opportunities for economically disadvantaged WOSBs to compete for contracts set aside for EDWOSBs. This is an effort to reach their 5% goal of federal contracting dollars allotted for women-owned small businesses.
Eligibility requirements for WOSBs
- Must be a small business as stated in the NAICS code
- It should be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women that are U.S. residents
- Female owners should prove that they are economically disadvantaged
Local PTAC counselors can help you determine which certification option is right for your business. You can also contact your state’s PTAC office directly to determine if they offer certification or similar services. The following are some examples of businesses certification options:
Third-party certification process
Businesses can also apply for WOSB and EDWOSB certifications through organizations approved by the SBA or the “third-party certifiers”. The amount to pay starts at $380. Applicants pay more if they cannot provide the requested information on a specific date. The certification process lasts from 6 to 8 weeks to finish.
A benefit of getting certified by third-party certifiers is that they can offer women entrepreneurs a greater chance of being eligible for a government contract under a program. Third-party certifiers recognized by the Small Business Administration are the following:
- The National Women’s Business Owners Corporation
- The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)
Businesses may certify themselves as women-owned through System for Award Management (SAM) registration. They may also include documentation into the program’s repository through Small Business Administration’s General Login System. This allows contracting to access the needed information to determine if businesses are qualified for WOSB set-asides before granting awards.
What is the difference between women business enterprise and women-owned small business?
WOSB certifications are company-level certifications based on SBA standards. The WOSB program’s purpose is to ensure equality in federal contracting. WOSB requirements are different from WBEs. See the examples below:
- WOSB programs are limited to certified entities to specific NAICS codes, while WBE is not.
- Other WBE-certified entities don’t have a size requirement, while WOSB must meet a certain number of employees stated in the SBA
Here are other differences between the two:
- A female U.S. resident must own and control 51% of the organization
- The business should be independent of other entities and activities in the business
- The female’s personal net worth cannot go beyond 15% after allowable deductions
- The business should be operating for at least more than 1 year
- Should be able to present schedules, statements, amendments, certifications, and other documentation
- A female U.S. resident must be in 51% control of the company
- Ownership is direct and not subject to any conditions
- Females must be in charge of daily business operations
- Females must be liable for the business’s long-term decisions
- Organizations must provide proof and documentation that they meet the requirements
Become certified now!
Becoming certified as a woman-owned business is a simple process that can provide your business with many advantages. Certification can help you access new markets, win government contracts, and qualify for corporate set-asides. In addition, certification can give your business a competitive edge and help you build valuable relationships with other certified companies.
The certification process typically involves completing an application and providing documentation to prove that your business is owned and controlled by a woman. Therefore, if you are a woman who owns her own business, becoming certified is worth considering. Doing so could provide countless benefits for your business.