female business owner

March is Women’s History Month! We have the privilege of working with many female entrepreneurs and business owners throughout southwest Missouri. In honor of Women’s History Month we’re sharing important information about the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business Program.

The History of the Women-Owned Small Business Program

In 2000, the Small Business Administration obtained the authority to set aside funds for a Women-Owned Small Business Program through the Small Business Reauthorization Act. On October 7, 2010, the Final Rule was issued to complete the regulations surrounding women-owned small business contracting procedures.

Over the last decade, the program has given female entrepreneurs increased access to government contracts, new clients, new employees, and dozens of new opportunities.

What is the Women-Owned Small Business Program?

According to the SBA website, the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Program “authorizes contracting officers to specifically limiting, or setting aside certain requirements for competition solely amongst women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) or economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSBs).”

In simpler terms, this means that of the $500 billion spent on contracts by the Federal government each year, 23% is set aside for small businesses, and 5% is set aside for WOSBs and EDWOSBs. This ensures small businesses have equal opportunity when competing for government contract dollars, more specifically in industries where women-owned businesses are underrepresented.

How Does the Women-Owned Small Business Program Work?

To participate in this program, a business must be certified by a third-party (self-certification is no longer an option; please visit the SBA website to learn more). This process requires users to visit the certify.SBA.gov website, and to have a profile at the website for the System for Award Management (SAM).

Once certified, users update their SAM profile to show prospective buyers that they are officially part of the women’s contracting program.

What Are the Requirements to Become a Certified Women-Owned Small Business?

To become certified as an official Women-Owned Small Business through the SBA, a business must first qualify as a small business.

Women must also be the major players in the business, managing day-to-day operations and making long-term business decisions.

Qualifying businesses must be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens. EDWOSBs require further qualifications, which can be found on the SBA website.

Our Role Assisting Women-Owned Small Businesses

At the Missouri Small Business Development Center at Missouri State University, we use our resources to help business owners identify their needs and strategize for their business’ growth. Often, this includes an assessment of whether or not they are interested in government contracting programs.

For businesses with this interest, we have the pleasure of referring them to Missouri Procurement Technical Assistance (PTAC) counselor Allen Waldo, who works closely with our center. As businesses work with Missouri PTAC to identify their government contracting opportunities, the Missouri SBDC serves as a referral source and support for additional business growth.

Women-owned businesses have the chance to access additional growth opportunities, and both the Missouri SBDC at MSU and Missouri PTAC can help business owners identify opportunities and complete the required processes.