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Perks of Getting a WOSB Certification & How To Become One

wosb certification

The hundred-billion dollar government contracting industry proves to be one of the best avenues to make your business grow–and it is predicted to grow even further this 2022. In the fiscal year 2020, despite the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the government has awarded a record-high $682 billion worth of federal contracts.

However, no matter how big these numbers are on paper, the women leaders still receive far less than they deserve. As of 2021, there are more than 12 million women-owned businesses across the U.S., and they generate $1.8 trillion worth of profits every year. Despite that, there are still several industries where women remain underrepresented.

The federal government and the Small Business Administration offer development assistance to these underserved businesses, such as the Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program, to level the playing field in government contracting.

What is the WOSB Federal Contracting Program?

The Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) Federal Contracting program is a government-assistance program managed by the Small Business Administration (SBA).

 

As the official federal agency that promotes and protects the rights and privileges of every small business owner in America, the SBA oversees the implementation of this program, along with other assistance programs, to ensure that help will be given to those it is intended to. Learn more about SBA’s contracting programs here.

The WOSB program aims to uplift the lives of women who are managing businesses in industries where they are underrepresented. This program also has a subunit called the Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs).

What are the benefits of the WOSB Program?

The WOSB Program may not automatically erase the deep-rooted prejudice against women, but it helps level the playing field for women in the government contracting industry. Qualified businesses for this program will enjoy the following benefits and privileges:

  1. Become eligible to bid for special government contracts

It is undeniable how stiff the competition is in bidding for government contracts. Going up against giant corporations with countless years of service under their belt can make the competition unfair, especially to small disadvantaged businesses.

 

To counter that predicament, the government limits the competition in specific contracts to qualified women-owned small businesses (WOSB) and economically-disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB). Participating small businesses are eligible to bid for set-aside contracts or set-asides. Set-asides is a type of federal contract exclusively available for participants of the various small business contracting assistance programs.

 

Additionally, the federal government is subject by law to fulfilling its small business procurement goals, including awarding at least 5% of the total value of all prime contracts and subcontract awards for each fiscal year to WOSBs. The SBA maintains a repository of agency goals here.

  1. Gain access to exclusive learning opportunities

Ascent

Managed by the SBA, Ascent is a free online learning platform for women who want to start their own small business or budding female entrepreneurs who wish to grow their enterprise even further.

 

With Ascent, you can access major topics written by experts on women’s entrepreneurship. These topics are further divided into easily-digestible materials called Journeys. Then to equip you with the tools to master each journey, each Journey has Excursions that you can explore.

SBA Mentor-Protégé Program

The best way to learn the ropes in the industry is to learn from the best. The Mentor-Protégé Program is an initiative overseen by the SBA that creates the perfect avenue for small businesses to connect with established government contractors.

 

To apply for the program as a protégé, here are the requirements you have to prepare before you submit your application at certify.sba.gov:

 

  • Confirm whether your business size qualifies as small using the Size Standards Tool.
  • Register your business first at SAM.gov. Here is a guide on how you can jumpstart your career as a federal contractor.
  • Your business should be a for-profit organization or an agricultural cooperative.
  • Prepare a proposed mentor before your application.

Learn the nitty-gritty of the application process by visiting SBA here.

Women’s Business Centers (WBCs)

Women Business Centers are entrepreneurship centers geared toward assisting women in starting and managing their small businesses. They provide free or low-cost counseling so they can equip every woman with the proper tools to flourish in a highly competitive environment.

Look for your nearest WBC here.

The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program help women business owners enjoy a more fair market climate for them. The process to become a certified woman-owned business can be tough, but it will be all worth it.

What is the difference between WOSB and WBE?

There are two types of certifications available for women entrepreneurs, the SBA Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) Program and the WBENC Women Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification.

SBA Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) Program

Echoing what we have previously stated, the WOSB program is a federal initiative that allows qualified small businesses to compete for special government contracts called set-asides. Government agencies reserve contracts for small businesses to contribute to the government’s effort to award 5% of its total prime contract and subcontract awards to women-owned small businesses.

WBENC Women Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification

Managed by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), this certification boosts women-owned businesses by connecting them to its diverse network of procurement executives and suppliers, from corporate to government members.

 

The WBE Certification is one of the widely-recognized certifications for women-owned businesses. To know more about its eligibility criteria and certification process, you can visit WBENC’s official website.

What are the requirements to become a WOSB-certified government contractor?

  1. Determine your eligibility

This program is designed for disadvantaged women entrepreneurs. And to confirm whether your business is eligible to receive assistance under this program, your business must meet the criteria:

  • Be a recognized small business. Confirm your business size using the Size Standards Tool.
  • Your business must be 51% owned and operated by women who are U.S. citizens.
  • The women of your company should have the authority to manage your daily operations and have the power to make long-term business decisions.

If you want to apply to the program’s subunit, the EDWOSB, there are additional eligibility requirements that you must take note of:

  • Be a recognized small business. Confirm your business size using the Size Standards Tool.
  • Your business must be 51% owned and operated by women who are U.S. citizens.
  • The women of your company should have the authority to manage your daily operations and have the power to make long-term business decisions.
  • The women who own and control 51% of your company should each have a personal net worth of less than $750,000.
  • The women who own and control 51% of your company should each have $6 million or less in personal assets.
  1. Choose your NAICS Codes

If you don’t have your business’s NAICS codes yet, you can select yours through this federal self-service website. From the list, identify which NAICS codes best describe your business.

Additionally, if you want to ensure whether your current industry is identified as an industry where women remain underrepresented, the SBA maintains a list of eligible NAICS codes.

  1. Register at SAM.gov

The System for Award Management (SAM.gov) website is the one-stop portal for every government contractor who wishes to register as an official contractor, bid for federal contracts, and be eligible to receive grants. A SAM.gov registration is also a prerequisite for your application for the WOSB or EDWOSB certification.

 

If you don’t have an existing SAM.gov registration yet, here are the requirements you have to compile beforehand:

Employer Identification Number (EIN)

Also known as the Federal Tax Identification Number, the EIN is your unique 9-digit identifier assigned by the Internal Revenue Service or IRS. Learn more about how you can apply for your EIN here. Additionally, you will also need to submit your IRS Consent Form if your business is a U.S. entity.

CAGE / NCAGE Code

Depending on where your business is located, you will get assigned either a CAGE Code or NCAGE Code.

 

If your business is established within the U.S and its territories, you are eligible for the CAGE Code or Commercial and Government Entity Code. You can receive yours once you have completed your SAM.gov registration. This means that you won’t have to worry about this before your application.

 

On the other hand, if your business is located outside the U.S and its territories, you will have to request your NATO Commercial and Government Entity Code or NCAGE Code here. You will need to prepare your NCAGE Code before your SAM.gov application.

Unique Entity Identifier (UEI)

The UEI is a 12-character alpha unique identifier code assigned by SAM.gov. If it is your first time registering your business at SAM.gov, you will automatically receive your UEI at the end of your SAM.gov application.

If you have an existing registration at SAM.gov using a DUNS Number, here is a guide on how you can view your UEI.

Banking Information

You will need to supply your banking and financial information to SAM.gov so the government will know how they can transfer your compensation.

On top of these major requirements, SAM.gov will ask for more information about your business during your application. Here is a complete Entity Registration Checklist that you can use as a reference.

  1. Prepare the specific requirements for your WOSB certification

Once you have completed your SAM.gov registration, you should now prepare the documentation required for your WOSB certification. The beta.Certify.sba.gov provides a thorough checklist to help you prepare for it.

  1. Get certified through the accredited channels

There are two ways in which you can apply for your WOSB certification. You can self-certify at beta.Certify.sba.gov or through third-party certification.

Self-certification at beta.Certify.sba.gov

SBA’s newly launched certification platform for WOSBs and EDWOSBs offers free certification through the website. Before you start your application, review this quick jumpstart guide by the SBA, then prepare the certification requirements that were previously discussed above.

Seek assistance from an approved third-party certifier

If you don’t want to go through all the hassle of applying for your certifications, you can request the services of an accredited third-party certifier–for a price.

 

As of writing, there are four approved by the SBA to provide third-party WOSB and EDWOSB certifications. Contact each organization to know more:

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Written by Cielo Cinco

She is an advertising copywriter and content creator who writes about the federal government contracting industry and its key players who make waves across the GovCon field.

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