To help level the playing field for women business owners, the federal government aims to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses each year. Many major corporations also have set-asides for certified woman-owned businesses. These contracts are especially for industries where women-owned small businesses are underrepresented.

Certifying as a woman-owned business makes a business eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for the program.

To be eligible, a business must:

  • Be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women
  • Be considered small according to the Small Business Administration’s standards
  • Have women manage day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions for the company

To become certified, businesses must go through a rigorous application process that includes proving ownership, control, and management by women. This can include providing tax returns, ownership documentation, and other business records. The certification process varies depending on the certifying agency or organization. Once certified, a woman-owned business gains access to valuable resources such as mentorship programs, networking opportunities, and educational workshops. These resources can help expand their knowledge and skills in areas such as marketing, finance, and government contracting.

The SBA, Minority Supplier Development Council, and local certifying agencies can assist women entrepreneurs in filing the paperwork needed so that they can compete for larger contracts.