Women Owned Small Business Certification Program - Part Two: Certification and Benefits

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This post, Part Two, briefly reviews the certification process and the benefits of certification.

1. Certification Process 

The SBA implemented changes to its WOSB certification in 2020. Previously, businesses were permitted to self-certify as a WOSB or an economically disadvantaged WOSB. Now, each business that wishes to obtain certification must either complete the application process provided by the SBA or use an approved third-party certifying company to get the certification. The SBA application is free. Every certification application requires a number of documents intended to substantiate the status of the business and its owners. The SBA may also request additional information and verify the information prior to making its determination.

When submitting the SBA WOSB application the following documents are required:

  1. Proof of U.S. citizenship
  2. Resumes of the business owners
  3. Governing documents for the business (operating agreement or bylaws) and any amendments
  4. Articles of incorporation or organization and any amendments
  5. Business records
  6. Financial records
  7. Signed federal personal and business tax returns
  8. Individual and business bank statement

The SBA has authority to request additional documentation to supplement, explain, or provide additional detail for any aspect of the application.

 2. Benefits

The benefits of having the WOSB certification are both pecuniary and non-financial. For example, certain federal government agencies may designate a certain percentage of funding to WOSB certified businesses. In addition, holding the WOSB certification may enable an owner greater access to certain educational support and business conferences and other events through local women’s business centers. In addition to the potential for grants, there is a trend for WOSB certified companies to work with other WOSB certified companies. Another benefit of the WOSB certification is that it may provide your business access to mentorship opportunities, networking events, and training programs that are exclusive to WOSB.

According to Laketa Henderson, Deputy District Director of the SBA Michigan District office:

“To help provide a level playing field for women business owners, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting Program. These contracts are for specific industries where women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) are underrepresented. Some contracts are restricted further to economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs). Joining the WOSB Federal Contracting Program makes a business eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for the program. The WOSB program can be a critical strategy to increasing markets, leveraging industry strengths, and gaining a competitive advantage.” 

As noted in our prior post which may be found here, WOSB certification is not the only certification program for women owned businesses. There are other certifying agencies and organizations for women and minority owned and managed businesses. Our next post will discuss Women Business Enterprise National Council certification.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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