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What is a Woman-Owned Small Business Certification and how to obtain it

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A Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and having the right certification can help female business owners push their business to new heights. Depending on the type of certification you want to obtain, many other organizations such as Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Certification or the Small Business Administration (SBA) can grant certification and offer federal financial aid to women-owned businesses. Being a women-owned business can offer a well-established amount of support, especially if you’re a small growing enterprise.

This year, the U.S SBA will make significant changes to its regulations and benefits for WOSB and WBENC businesses, ensuring those who need to receive proper federal funding and contracts will be taken into consideration. For more detailed information on registering a WOSB, read our guide online.

Steps to become WOSB certified

Step one: Register on the Small Business Administration website

The SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business program is a great place to start, as it is a free portal to help certify your business. The application involves two steps, visit the System for Award Management website (sam.gov) and complete the form. Then after 72 hours, visit certify.sba.gov and complete the form, whereby you then need to pay the required fees. Although the SBA doesn’t provide actual certification anymore, you can do so through a third party.

Step Two: Register for Woman-Owned Small Business Certification through a third party

The National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) can offer national certification to both WOSBs and EDWOSBs. Although there is a $400 minimum fee for the application, this program can help WOSB and EDWOSB businesses receive better federal contracts and more lucrative funding. There are some requirements you need to take into consideration such as the size of your business, control, ownership, type of business structure, and additional NAICS codes of compliance. 

Step Three: Processing

After completion of your application, it may take anything from 6-8 weeks to fully process your certification. Although it might seem long to wait, a lot of these programs are looking to aid women-owned businesses who are willing to receive mentoring programs, funding, and some great training opportunities to help improve your business.

Ensure that you complete all the required information during the application process and that if needed, you can provide additional documentation to your agency. Some agencies might require financial records and statements, and an operating agreement of the business. Be sure to keep everything on record, and that you can complete the application in full.

Step Four: In-person interview

After your initial application process, and completion of all necessary background checks on both you and your business, you can expect to have an in-person interview with the committee of the agency. The in-person interview might also involve an onsite inspection of your business, and to review whether you meet the requirements set out by the organization.

 Additionally, it’s good to remember that one of the biggest requirements to become WOSB certified is that the business must be 51% female-owned. 

Step Five: Receiving your certification

After you have received your certification, you are now part of an elite group of businesses that can receive additional funding and support from federal agencies. It’s good to note that some bigger companies will send out notices about funding opportunities, upcoming events, and new programs through organizations such as NWBOC and the WBENC.

This can mark a great achievement for your business, as it opens new avenues for you to explore better more innovative business ventures and opportunities to expand your business.

Step Six: Yearly Renewal

It’s good to be aware that once you have received your certification that there is a renewal process that needs to be completed annually. The renewal process isn’t that tedious than the initial application process, but failing to renew your Woman-Owned Small Business Certification can result in it expiring after the first year.

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