How to Get Certified as a Women-Owned Small Business

January 22, 2024

By Ali Stofflet, Director of Business Outreach & Growth

Diversity and inclusion have become pivotal to growth and success in the dynamic business landscape. Certification as a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) or other related designations can open doors to numerous opportunities for women entrepreneurs. The U.S. government has mandated that 5% of all contracts be awarded to Women-Owned Businesses, equaling roughly $25 Billion in contracts. 

Understanding the Acronyms

Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB):

WOSB certification is a recognition granted to businesses where women own at least 51% of the company and manage its day-to-day operations. This certification is particularly advantageous when bidding on federal contracts, as it promotes diversity and inclusion in government contracting.

Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE):

WBE certification, often provided by third-party organizations such as the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), verifies that a business is at least 51% owned, controlled, operated, and managed by women. This certification extends beyond federal contracts and is recognized in various industries. 

Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB):

EDWOSB certification is an extension of WOSB, focusing on businesses where women face economic disadvantages. To qualify, the woman owner must demonstrate economic hardship, opening up additional opportunities for federal contracting.

The Certification Process

1. Research Eligibility Criteria:

Before pursuing certification, ensure your business meets the eligibility criteria for WOSB, WBE, or EDWOSB. This typically involves proving majority ownership, control, and management by women.

2. Submit Your Application:

Be prepared for a thorough review process, where your business’s eligibility will be scrutinized. Contact the Small Business Administration and the Minority Business Development Agency for personalized assistance. They can provide guidance, answer questions, and connect you with resources to facilitate the certification process. 

3. Stay Informed:

Keep abreast of any updates or changes in certification criteria. The landscape of certifications may evolve, and staying informed ensures that your business remains compliant.

4. After Certification, Network with Other Certified Businesses:

Connect with other certified women-owned businesses to gain insights into their experiences and challenges. Networking can be a valuable source of support and information. Certification opens you up to networking and support organizations like the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council


In conclusion, becoming a certified women-owned small business can be a transformative step for entrepreneurs. By navigating the certification process and tapping into the resources provided by organizations like the SBA and MBDA, you can position your business for increased opportunities and success in a diverse and inclusive business environment.

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