For Women-Owned Businesses

Good news for women-owned small businesses, you may qualify for special federal government set-asides. Beginning in 2011, a Small Business Administration ruling mandated that contracting officers set aside a certain amount of opportunities for Woman-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned 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 WOSB's. Visit smallbusiness.data.gov to review all agencies’ small business goals to each category 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, who must be U.S. citizens. The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA 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 small 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, where you may certify yourself as a woman-owned and/or economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business. However, that's only the first step of the process.

Your certifying documentation--the information that proves you are bona fide--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, and 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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