For Women-Owned Businesses

Good news for women-owned small businesses: your business may qualify for special federal set-asides. Beginning in 2011, a Small Business Administration ruling mandated contracting officers to set aside a certain amount for Woman-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Small Businesses (EDWOSB). To get the latest updates on policy and opportunities, visit the SBA page on women-owned small business programs.

Agencies are looking for you. Currently, the contracting goal across the federal government is to award 5% of federal contracts to women-owned small businesses. Visit smallbusiness.data.gov to review all agencies’ small business goals (including women-owned small businesses), and their progress in reaching them. Contracting officers will also list their set-aside requirements in their solicitations on Fedbizopps, so make sure to visit regularly.

Eligibility Requirements

Here’s how to figure out if your business qualifies: To be eligible, a firm must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women. The women must be U.S. citizens. The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry.

In order for a WOSB to be deemed “economically disadvantaged,” its owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the requirements set forth in the Small Business Administration final rule.

Proving Eligibility

There are a few steps you must take to ensure that federal contracting officers who are looking for women owned and/or economically disadvantaged women owned-businesses can find you. You need to educate yourself by reviewing federal contract regulations. Then register in the System for Award Managment (SAM), the federal acquisition database. In SAM, you may list yourself as a woman-owned and/or economically disadvantaged woman-owned business. However, that's only step one of a two-step process.

Your certifying documentation--the information that proves your bona fides--goes in an SBA database, known as the General Login System (GLS). The WOSB repository on GLS is where contracting officers will search to validate your business. GLS assures contracting officers that they are dealing with honest contractors.

Checklist:

  1. Read the WOSB Federal Contract program regulations in the Federal Register and the WOSB Compliance Guide.
  2. Register and represent your status in the System for Award Management (SAM) as WOSB or EDWOSB
  3. Obtain an account and log onto SBA’s General Login System (GLS).
  4. Go to the WOSB program repository (through GLS) and upload / categorize all required documents.
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