The federal government’s goal is to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses each year.
- Program benefits
- Women’s contracting program eligibility requirements
- Get certified as a women-owned small business
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 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). The SBA maintains a list of those eligible industries and their NAICS codes.
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.
Women’s contracting program eligibility requirements
To be eligible for the women’s contracting program, your business must:
- Be a small business
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens
- Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions
To qualify as an economically disadvantaged business within the women’s contracting program, your business must:
- Meet all the requirements of the women’s contracting program
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with a personal net worth less than $750,000
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with $350,000 or less in adjusted gross income averaged over the previous three years
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each $6 million or less in personal assets
The eligibility requirements to qualify as a WOSB or an EDWOSB are fully defined in Title 13 Part 127 Subpart B of the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR). You can also get a preliminary assessment of whether you qualify at the SBA’s Certify website.
Get certified as a women-owned small business
Before you can participate in the women’s contracting program, you must be either self-certified or third-party certified. Both methods will require you to use the certify.SBA.gov website. You’ll need to have a profile at SAM.gov before you can use the certification website.
After you provide your certification information through certify.SBA.gov, you should update your business profile at SAM.gov to show contracting officers that your business is in the women’s contracting program. The SBA doesn’t send letters of certification for the women’s contracting program.
You’ll need to update your certification information through both SAM.gov and certify.SBA.gov once a year to maintain your status with the program.
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.
There are four organizations approved by the SBA to provide third-party certification. Contact them to find out about their certification process. They are:
- El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce
- National Women Business Owners Corporation
- US Women’s Chamber of Commerce
- Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
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.
The SBA also accepts a current, valid 8(a) certification. You must provide your 8(a) certification and annual review letters through certify.SBA.gov.