Women Business Enterprise (WBE)

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible, a firm must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women. The women must be U.S. citizens. The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry. In order for a WOSB to be deemed “economically disadvantaged,” its owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the requirements set forth in the final rule.


WOSB Program Third Party Certification

The SBA has approved four organizations to act as Third Party Certifiers under the WOSB Program. The four organizations and contact information are:

Women Owned Small Businesses may elect to use the services of a Third Party Certifier to demonstrate eligibility for the program, or they may self-certify using the process outlined here on this website. SBA will only accept third party certification from these entities, and firms are still subject to the same eligibility requirements to participate in the program.

Please note, at the request of WBENC, SBA has approved WBENC only for the certification of WOSBs and not for the certification of Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs.


5  Steps to participate in the WOSB program:

  1. Read the WOSB Federal Contract program regulations in the Federal Register and the WOSB Compliance Guide.
  2. Register in Central Contractor Registration (CCR) as WOSB or EDWOSB.*
  3. Log onto SBA’s General Login System (GLS). *Obtain an account now if you don’t already have one
  4. Go to the WOSB program repository (through GLS) and upload / categorize all required documents.
  5. Represent your status in Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA).


*The CCR and ORCA system updates to accommodate the new business types are currently in process by the General Services Administration.


Does a woman business owner have to be certified as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE)?

No.  However, the advantage is that it enables women business owners to bid on a small  percentage of contracts which have been set aside specifically for women business owners.  This will reduce the competition for bids and they will be competing against other small business women owners.


What types of certifications are needed?

It depends on who your prospective clients will be.  Are you looking to do business with the federal government or private sector companies like Procter & Gamble, Avon, Macy’s, etc.?  You will need to find out which certifications they accept.  Woman owned businesses that wish to do work relating to transportation may need to bypass the WBE certification and acquire a Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) certification.  There are some agencies which will accept ANY certification, like Hamilton County and Cincinnati Public Schools.


Does the SBA certify WBEs?

Not at the present time, but this has been in the works for the last couple of years.  At this point in time, it is still a ‘self’ certification process.  In other words, a WBE certifies that they are 51% woman owned and operating.  A letter from an attorney or accountant indicating the ownership of your company will usually suffice.  The only certification that the SBA has is the 8(a) Certification and Small Disadvantaged Business Certification, which are federal certifications. Information on this is available at  www.sba.gov.


What do I need to do business with the federal government?

The Procurement Technical Assistance Center (PTAC) is the best resource for learning how to do business with the government at www.swcoptac.org.  A contact is at PTAC is: Candice Charlton, Procurement Counselor, PTAC, 4700 Ashwood Drive #135, Cincinnati, OH 45241, Ph: 513-489-2528, Email:  ccharlton@emtec.org


What about doing business with the State of Ohio and the City of Cincinnati?

Agencies such as the State of Ohio and the City of Cincinnati have their own certifications.  The EDGE (Encouraging Diversity, Growth and Equity) program is part of the State of Ohio Certification Program and CANNOT be used for federal contracts.


What about doing business with the private sector?

If you’re looking to do business with the private sector, you may want to consider the WBENC certification.  Their website  www.wbenc.org outlines the certification process along with the corporations which utilize their certification.  There is also the Ohio Women’s Business Development Council  www.wbec-se.org that certifies Ohio WBE’s and can assist in packaging other certifications which might assist in speeding up the process.


How much does certification cost?

There is usually a charge around $300.  It is recommended that you look at your targeted companies to determine which certification(s) will provide the maximum benefit to your company.


How long does certification take?

Between 3-6 months.

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