Rounding out our week-long Blog series on the Small Business Administration’s (“SBA”) small business development programs, today we’ll take a look at the Women-Owned Small Business Program (or “WOSB”).

Like the other programs we’ve examined, the key feature of WOSB Program participation is access to contracts set-aside for exclusive performance by Program members.  In fact, there is a government-wide goal of awarding five percent of all Federal prime contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses.

Generally, your business will qualify as a WOSB if:

• It is small under the industry classification assigned to the particular contract being pursued; and

• It is unconditionally owned (at least 51%) and controlled by a female U.S. citizen.

One of the interesting features of the WOSB Program is that – if you meet these and other requirements – you can elect to self-certify for a particular procurement or apply for formal certification through one of the four approved organizations acting as Third Party Certifiers:

El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce;

National Women Business Owners Corporation;

US Women’s Chamber of Commerce; and

Women’s Business Enterprise National Council.

Generally speaking, if your business will be pursuing WOSB set-aside contracts on a fairly regular basis, obtaining formal certification will pay off in the long run.  It requires more work upfront (compared to self-certification), but eliminates the need to repeat certain work for each contract thereafter.

Also, those interested in the WOSB Program should note that there are two paths available. First, as we’ve been discussing, there is the traditional WOSB – which does not include any economic restrictions. However, there is also the EDWOSB, or “Economically Disadvantaged” Women-Owned Small Business Program, which offers access to even more exclusive contracting opportunities. EDWOSB participants must qualify by demonstrating compliance with certain income and net worth restrictions.

I hope that this week’s walkthrough of the SBA’s small business development programs has been helpful and informative.  If you have any specific questions – or would like me to cover any aspect of the 8(a), SDVOSB, HUBZone, and/or WOSB Programs in greater detail – please (as always) feel free to reach out to me directly.