March is a good month for women. According to the National Women’s Business Council, there are over 7 million women-owned businesses in the US. Washington, D.C. and Maryland are the states with the largest percentage of women-owned businesses, and Detroit is the city with the largest percentage of women-owned businesses (shout out to my hometown!). Women-owned businesses have $1.2 trillion in total receipts. African American women-owned firms generate $36.8 billion of that figure.
Now, as we end Women’s History Month, let’s highlight the Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) program that provides opportunities for women-owned small businesses to do business with the federal government. In 2012, WOSB accounted for four percent of all small business federal contracts, amounting to $16.2 billion total—now wouldn’t you want a piece of that pie?
Do not assume that your business, product or service is not a right fit to do business with the government. Federal and state governments purchase a wide-range of services and products each year, and provide an excellent platform for women-owned businesses—perhaps even yours.
Who Qualifies: The WOSB must be small… as defined by the SBA. (Definition found here) The entity must be 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens. That means in an LLC, a woman must have 51% ownership of each class of membership. Control refers to not only the daily operations of the entity, but the long-term planning as well.
Certification: In order to bid on contracts, the entity must be certified as a WOSB either by self-certifying or through third party certification by state government, local government, or an SBA approved certifying entity.
Industries: A range of industries is eligible for WOSB contracts. There are several industries identified by the SBA where women-owned business are underrepresented or substantially underrepresented, such as residential construction, transportation, and design. A full list of NAIC codes can be found here.
Resources: There are a ton of resources to educate women business owners on the process of bidding on federal government contracts and entities that will help woman-owned businesses through the process.
Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
National Association of Women Business Owners Corp.
Small Business Association’s Office of Government Contracting
National Women Business Owners Corporation Database
If you are a small business with government contracts or seeking them and you need legal assistance we would love to an opportunity to meet with you. Contact us at 202-505-5309 or firstname.lastname@example.org.