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SBA's Women-Owned Small Business Program Blog Feature
Stephanie Hagan

By: Stephanie Hagan on March 27th, 2024

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SBA's Women-Owned Small Business Program

Government Business Development | 5 Min Read

As a small business GSA contractor, it’s essential to understand if your company qualifies for additional set-asides. Depending on your North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) Code, you could qualify for certain small business contracting programs or opportunities that are only available to a certain subset of contractors. 

There are several types of socio-economic set-asides including veteran-owned/service-disabled veteran-owned, economically disadvantaged, women-owned, and historically underutilized business zones. This blog takes an in-depth look at one program specifically: the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program. Let's talk about the WOSB program, how to certify, and benefits it could bring your business.

What is the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Set-Aside Program?

To 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 are underrepresented. Every year, the federal government aims to set aside 5% of all federal contracting dollars to WOSBs. This number changes as goals are readjusted every few years. 

Contracting Officers are required to set-aside certain federal contracts for eligible WOSBs. Some contracts are restricted further to Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs). The SBA maintains a list of those eligible industries and their NAICS codes.

If you join the WOSB program, you are eligible to compete for certain federal contract set-asides within the program. You can also still compete for contract awards under any other socio-economic programs you may qualify for. 

Do You Qualify for the Women-Owned Small Business Program?

Before you can compete for WOSB set-aside contracts, you must apply for certification through the process on or go through an approved third party certifier. As of 2020, small businesses can no longer self-certify. Both methods require that firms use SBA website.

On the website, you can:

  • Access checklists that provide guidance prior to applying
  • Explore your company’s eligibility
  • Find answers to questions regarding your firm’s eligibility in the program
  • Request information from SBA program experts
  • Create an account and proceed with your application

If your firm is interested in participating in the WOSB program, there are certain qualifications and requirements that you must meet, and you must also obtain certification through the SBA or a third-party organization.

In order to be eligible, a company must:

  • Be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women.
  • Company needs to be managed by one or more women who is a U.S. citizen.
  • Your business must qualify as “small” under your NAICS Code
  • Have women manage day-to-day operations and make long-term decisions

To qualify as an EDWOSB within the program, a business must:

  • Meet all the requirements of the WOSB Federal Contract program
  • Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with a personal net worth less than $850,000
  • Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with $400,000 or less in adjusted gross income averaged over the previous three years
  • Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each $6.5 million or less in personal assets

Benefits of the Women-Owned Small Business Program

There are multiple benefits, in addition to the aforementioned set-asides, to registering with the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program if you are eligible.

First, the program has multiple avenues to receive assistance. The SBA offers a variety of resource partners to assist small businesses. Firms can also use the SBA Local Assistance tool to contact their local SBA regional and district office or Women’s Business Center. In addition, the knowledge base is a valuable resource for firms to get started learning about this new platform with how-to videos, user guides, and more.

Additionally, the WOSB set-aside also offers webinars and town halls that cover various topics related to WOSB and EDWOSB certification. Participation in webinars and town halls are completely voluntary. 

Take Advantage of Your Small Business Designation

Because of the clear benefits associated with membership in the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program, your firm should certainly investigate the opportunity further if you believe that you may qualify. For more information about how to enroll, you can visit the SBA page about the WOSB program.

If you are interested in learning more about getting involved in the program, you can check out our blog about the WOSB certification process. If you want to do more research on small business contracting opportunities, you can read our blog about How to Market to the Government as a Women-Owned Small Business. As always, feel free to reach out to us at Winvale if you have any questions or believe that we can help with your GSA Schedule contract.

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About Stephanie Hagan

Stephanie Hagan is the Training and Communications Manager for Winvale. Stephanie grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and earned her Bachelor's of Arts in Journalism and Rhetoric/Communications from the University of Richmond.