According to the National Women’s Business Council, 7.8 million women-owned businesses exist in the United States, generating $1.2 trillion in total receipts.
But despite these figures, female business leaders remain scarce in many fields. The good news is the Small Business Administration is doing something about it, expanding federal contracting opportunities for female business leaders, which will help level the playing field.
The SBA’s Contracting Support for Women-Owned Small Businesses says certain project contracts can now be set aside for eligible businesses in underrepresented industries as long as the contracts can be awarded at fair prices and there is a reasonable expectation that at least two WOSBs or economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses will submit offers.
Under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2013, the SBA made alterations to its WOSB and EDWOSB contract program. An SBA blog post announced revisions, reporting that as of 2013, the contract award size caps have been lifted for these groups – including the $6.5 million limit for manufacturing and the $4 million ceiling for all other areas – providing greater access to opportunities without restrictions on dollar amount.
Updates to the eligible North American Industry Classification Systems Code listings, which identify sectors lacking WOSBs, are now available for review.
To qualify for the contract program, you must meet several basic requirements, including the following:
- Are you a U.S. citizen?
- Is your business at least 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women?
- Is your business predominantly managed by one or more women?
If you answered check, check and check, then read on. As long as your business is considered a small business according to size standards established by the SBA, you meet the key prerequisites. Keep in mind that to meet the economically disadvantaged designation, you need to meet the SBA’s financial requirements.
Companies that wish to participate in the WOSB program must self-certify or obtain third-party certification from one of four approved certifiers:
- El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- National Women Business Owners Corporation
- U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
For more information, visit www.sba.gov.