what is the woman-owned set-aside?
The federal government tries to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses each year.
To help provide a level playing field for women business owners, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the women's contracting program. These set-aside contracts are for industries where women-owned small businesses (WOSB) are underrepresented. Some contracts are restricted further to economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB).
Joining the women's contracting program makes your business eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for the program. You can still compete for contract awards under other socio-economic programs you qualify for.
There are two major ways to get certified as a woman-owned business:
- Self-Certification. You can self-certify directly at certify.SBA.gov by answering questions and uploading documents. The information you'll need to provide will vary based on your business structure and whether you're already participating in other SBA programs. Review the preparation checklist at the certify website. The link to the right can get you started.
- Third-Party Certification. There are four organizations approved by the SBA to provide third-party certification. Contact them to find out about their certification process. The links to the right will take you to the various portals. You'll need to provide proof of your third-party certification through certify.SBA.gov. Read the instructions carefully to make sure you provide all the necessary information.
can my business get a woman-owned set-aside?
A common misconception about woman-owned status is that in order to qualify, a business just needs to have at least one woman owner. In order to qualify, a business must have at least 51% woman ownership. As such, much like with other set-asides, they frequently cannot be combined with other set-asides unless such set-asides apply to that 51% owner (so, for example, two business partners -- one who is a woman and one who is a veteran -- cannot gain both woman-owned and veteran-owned status). In order to avoid fraud, the woman principle must also be shown to consistently run the operations of the business; placing a wife or daughter as the business owner solely on paper is not permitted and can result in penalties.
In addition to ownership status, woman-owned set-asides typically only apply to certain industries/NAICS codes. For a list of the NAICS codes that are eligible for woman-owned set-asides, you can click here.
As hinted at above, there is also a set-aside known as economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB). Along with the above requirements, to qualify for EDWOSB status, the business must be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with a personal net worth less than $750,000. It also must e owned and controlled by one or more women, each whose average adjusted gross income for three years is $350,000 or less. Finally, the business must have $6 million or less in business assets. Eligible NAICS codes for the EDWOSB status can be found by clicking here.
If you are having trouble or need further assistance, feel free to reach out to us for additional support. Some assistance -- such a personalized attention or consulting referrals -- may require your company to becoming a member of the Chamber. Feel free to click on the below button to go to our contact page and reach out to us.
Applying for Woman-Owned Set-Aside
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