We’ve collected all the information into one place for you to know how to get certified as a woman owned small business. You will learn the advantages of certification, qualifications, and steps to register as a woman owned small business.
Women owned business certifications opens possibilities for government contracts where you receive preferential review when applying for open-bid contracts. Our goal at Sohuis is to help you understand ways to grow your business and gain a competitive edge. Getting fully registered as a female owned business could be an important step in your success.
Why Get a Women Owned Business Certification?
The Women Owned Business Certification (WOSB) program helps level the playing field for women business owners. Certification gives you the opportunity to grow your company and improve your financial outlook. Your woman owned business can subcontract for the awarded job, so the size of your company doesn’t cut you out of a lucrative federal contract.
The federal government aims to award at least 5% of all contracting dollars yearly to WOSBs in industries where firms are underrepresented. They set aside a percentage for Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB). Minority women-owned businesses are included under this umbrella. The Small Business Administration (SBA) maintains a list of eligible industries and their NAICS codes to see if you qualify.
There are two types of certification:
- Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB)
- Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB)
Self-certification is free through the SBA.
If you’re too busy to get certified, an approved third-party can complete the process for you.
Does Your Small Business Qualify for the WOSB?
Here are the Federal Contracting Program regulations for women owned business certifications:
- U.S. Citizen.
- 51% women-owned and operated, meaning women make long-term decisions and perform day-to-day management.
- Your firm needs to be small according to its primary North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code. Here’s the table of size standards: Small Business Size Regulations. If you don’t know the NAICS code(s) for your company, go to https://www.census.gov/naics/.
- Your firm must be for profit. Individual proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company, S Corporation, or C Corporations are all eligible.
- Non-profit entities are ineligible to use most SBA small business programs. Exceptions may include Community Development Corporations (CDC) or businesses working as mentors in Mentor Protégé programs.
- Neither your firm, nor any of its owners, have been debarred or suspended by any federal entity.
- Primary operation must be in the United States, or make a significant contribution to the economy through payment of taxes, using American products, materials, or labor.
- You must work full-time hours during normal working hours, but there is no minimum amount of time for the company to be considered operational.
Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) have Additional Requirements for Certification
In addition to the previous documents, EDWOSB registration requires:
- The woman business owner’s net worth must be less than $750,000. This calculation excludes interest in the business, equity interest in her primary residence, funds invested in qualified retirement accounts, and income received from an S Corp, LLC, or partnership that was reinvested into the company or used to pay taxes for normal business operations.
- Adjusted gross income average over three years must be less than or equal to $350,000.
- The fair market value of all assets must be $6 million or less. This includes the primary residence and the value of the business. This calculation excludes funds invested in a qualified IRA or other official retirement accounts.
- These financial requirements exclude equity in the business and primary personal residence, income reinvested or used to pay business taxes, and funds invested in official retirement accounts.
What Documents Do You Need for Women-Owned Business Certification?
You must register in the System for Award Management and provide these documents:
- Birth certificate, naturalization papers, or unexpired passports for each woman business owner.
- Articles of organization/incorporation, partnership or joint venture agreements, voting agreements, and any amendments.
- Issued stock certificates and stock ledger.
- Assumed/fictitious name certificate.
- Three of your most recent personal tax returns, including W-2s and all schedules for each woman business owner and her spouse (for EDWOSB).
- IRS Form 4506-T, Request for Tax Transcript for each woman business owner and her spouse (for EDWOSB).
- If you’re applying for the EDWOSB certificate, upload your 8(a) certificate and annual review letter instead of the other financial statements.
To stay up to date with changes to the WOSB Federal Contracting Program, visit sba.gov/wosbready. Firms can use the SBA Local Assistance to contact their local SBA regional and district office or Women’s Business Center with questions. In addition, the beta.certify.sba.gov knowledge base is a valuable resource for firms to get started learning about this new platform with how-to videos.
We also partner closely with WBENC, they are the leading certifying body for Women Owned Businesses here in the US.