Currently, there are 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States – employing nearly nine million people and generating $1.7 trillion in sales. These businesses are excelling, growing at one and a half times the rate of the average U.S business. However, despite this growth, many women face a common challenge when starting a business: accessing capital. 

To address this issue, the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 set a goal to award 5% of all federal prime contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses. In 2015, this goal was met when $17.8 billion of federal contracting dollars eligible for small businesses were awarded to women-owned businesses.

In addition to being able to market to a new wave of conscious consumers, getting certified as a Women-Owned Small business (WOSB) or Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) can provide entrepreneurs greater access to these aforementioned federal contracts.

Some of the requirements that must be met in order to qualify for a WOSB certification include the following:

• Meeting the small business size standard

• At least 51% owned by female U.S. citizens

• Day-to-day operations managed by a woman

• The highest leadership position in the company must be held by a woman

To qualify as an EDWOSB, a business must meet all the requirements for a WOSB, as well as the following:

• Personal net worth (assets minus liabilities) is less than $750,000

• Adjusted gross income average over three years is $350,000 or less

• Fair market value of all assets is $6 million or less 

Interested in getting certified? Here are two methods to apply: 

1. Self-certification (free)

2. Certification third party certifiers approved by SBA (cost)

El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC)

US Women’s Chamber of Commerce

Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

Becoming certified as a women-owned business has tremendous advantages and adds value and credibility to your company. Additionally, it opens doors to networking and business opportunities with companies looking to work with diverse groups and offers a key competitive advantage for women-owned businesses.