Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Certification

The WOSB is a program coordinated by the Small Business Administration (SBA) with the goal of giving women-owned business easier access to the resources they need to grow their business. The Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB) certification is a subset of the WOSB program. These certifications offer the change to compete fairly for federal contracts and gain access to resources tailored to promoting women in business.

Advantages of  a WOSB/EDWOSB Certification

Over 20 years ago, the federal government set a goal for awarding 5 percent of government contracts to small businesses owned by women. That goal has been elusive, but was finally met in 2015 when 5.05 percent, or $17.8 billion, of all federal contracting dollars that were eligible for small businesses were awarded to WOSBs.

In addition to the contracting goal, federal contracts can be “set aside” for WOSB in industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. This helps ensure that small businesses owned are competing on a more level playing field with other similar companies.

Requirements for Certification

To qualify as a women-owned small business, or WOSB, your business must meet the following requirements:

  • Your company must qualify as a small business based on SBA small business size standards. ( a certified registration specialist can get you registered as a small business if you qualify) The standards are usually stated in terms of employee size/or annual revenue, and vary depending on your industry code. (NAICS Code)
  • Your company must be 51 percent owned by women who are U.S Citizens.
  • Women must make long-term decisions for the company.
  • A women who works full-time for the company during normal business hours must hold the highest officer position in the company.
  • There are no rules governing time in business.

To qualify as an economically disadvantaged women-owned small business, or EDWOSB, your business must meet the WOSB requirements, and the owner of the company must demonstrate economic disadvantage in the following ways:

  • Personal net worth is less than $750,000 with some exclusions.
  • Adjusted gross income averaged over three years of $350,000 or less with some exceptions.
  • Fair market value of all assets (no exclusions) of $6 million or less.

How to get Certified 

There are two ways to become certified. You can self-certify, or you can talk with a CRS on how they can help you get certified.

Bottom line

Once you are a certified WOSB, you can search for federal contracting set-asides on FedBizOpps.gov. Additionally you’ll have the opportunity to qualify for grants specifically for women owned businesses.


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