Breaking News

Next Avenue: How to get certified as a woman-owned business

This article is reprinted through permission from

Getting licensed as a woman-owned industry takes grit and tenacity. But it could potentially help land women folk entrepreneurs more industry alternatives and government contracts.

“It’s a grueling process,” mentioned Michele Burchfield, co-founder of Blume Honey Water, a Pittsburgh-based company, when describing getting her industry licensed through the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the largest certifier of women-owned businesses or women folk’s industry enterprises, in the U.S. “But we got through it simply in time to place the brand on our label. And many companies, similar to Target and Starbucks, have tasks to paintings with WBENC-certified companies.”

Having the certification, Burchfield mentioned, has helped Blume Honey Water ramp up gross sales and open doors at shops and will achieve this at some point. Certification too can help women folk entrepreneurs faucet sources offered through the group at the back of the insignia, including networking events and executive teaching programs.

The payoff for buying licensed

The effort to get licensed, whilst tough, has the possible to pay back the hassle in spades. “The execs are higher visibility,” mentioned Donna M. De Carolis, dean of the Charles D. Close School of Entrepreneurship at Drexel University and a member of the editorial board of EIX, the Entrepreneurial and Innovation Exchange, a social media learning platform funded through the Schulze Family Foundation.

“Most public corporations as well as local, state, and federal government purchasing businesses have methods for doling out a undeniable proportion of commercial to women-owned companies,” mentioned De Carolis.

The U.S. government deliberately looks for women-owned businesses to award specially-designated government contracts.

“The federal government has a statutory objective of awarding 5% of eligible top contracting greenbacks to women-owned small businesses,” mentioned Carla Harris, chair of the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), a nonpartisan federal team that advises the president, Congress and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on financial issues important to girls industry house owners. “Since the established order of this objective in 1994, it wasn’t until two years in the past that it first met its objective — and it ignored it in 2016.”

Large companies and government businesses will send out a request for proposal to publish industry proposals and contracts through organizations like the National Woman Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) and the WBENC. Then, licensed companies obtain an e-mail blast about upcoming venture alternatives.

Who qualifies for certification

So who qualifies for women-owned certification and the way do you get the designation?

In normal, women-owned businesses are ones no less than 51% controlled through women folk who are U.S. citizens. A girl (or women folk) must set up the daily operations and a woman must the grasp the best officer position in the industry and paintings on the industry full time. A girl and a person can own the corporate collectively, but the girl must be the majority proprietor and display her management and regulate of the corporate.

If you’d like to apply for certification as a woman-owned industry, have persistence. De Carolis mentioned it’s a “lengthy software process, which in some cases can take up to a year.” The WBENC’s site says its processing time is usually 90 days from the date all documentation has been received.

Another possible downside: “Some women folk are fearful about handiest being observed as a woman-run industry, and now not being taken as significantly as a person in the similar business,” De Carolis mentioned.

I say: Get over it. There’s no reason why to pass up a market that can have a vested hobby in operating with you.

Admittedly, the sheer collection of types of certification can make your head twirl. They range from self-certification to state certification. De Carolis’ recommendation: “Investigate the type of certification you search because it relates to your small business and possible consumers.”

four main types of women-owned industry certification

For the sake of simplicity, I'm simply going to mention four types of certification for women industry house owners:

The Small Business Administration gives the Women-Owned Small Business designation. It’s perfect when you’re aiming to score federal contracts. The SBA’s process is beautiful easy, De Carolis mentioned.

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise certification or DBE, is a federal designation carried out through the state and applies to contracts during the U.S. Department of Transportation. If federal cash is concerned for a Transportation Department contract, the state must include women folk at a predetermined level. This certification presumes positive groups are deprived, including women folk, black Americans, Hispanic Americans, Native Americans, Asian-Pacific Americans, Subcontinent Asian-Pacific Americans or other minorities.

Then there’s the nonprofit Women’s Business Enterprise National Council program to get licensed. WBENC certification is accepted through more than 1,000 corporations, plus many federal, state and native government entities. WBENC is also an approved third-party certifier for the Women-Owned Small Business federal contracting program during the SBA.

There aren't any size or length-of-time in industry requirements here, but you’ll need to pull in combination a variety of forms and have an in-person interview to vet your company.

“Certification is the foundation of what we do,” mentioned Pamela Prince-Eason, WBENC president and CEO. “We view certification as a catalyst for industry enlargement and a key steppingstone for women in construction a a success industry. It opens doors to new industry alternatives and gives get admission to to masses of possible corporate and government clients, as well as a community of hundreds of fellow female entrepreneurs.”

The National Woman Business Owners Corporation additionally has a national certification program. Its requirements are similar to the ones of WBENC. The team supplies licensed businesses with a mentoring program and training alternatives.

Federal vs. state certification

In addition to private third-party certifiers like the WBENC and NWBOC, several state and native businesses offer certification methods.

Generally speaking, if you're taking a look to do industry in the personal sector, nationwide certificate are the route to take. But if you're aiming to do industry with, say, the local medical heart in your the city, you may take a look at to peer if there’s a town company that certifies women-owned businesses.

Once you ranking the certification, broadcast the scoop in every single place. Showcase that you just’re are a licensed women-owned undertaking on your site and in your marketing and promotional fabrics.

Every little edge helps.

Kerry Hannon has covered private finance, retirement and careers for the New York Times, Forbes, Money, U.S. News & World Report and USA Today, amongst other publications. She is the author of a dozen books including “Money Confidence: Really Smart Financial Moves for Newly Single Women” Her site is Follow her on Twitter @kerryhannon.

This article is reprinted through permission from, © 2018 Twin Cities Public Television, Inc. All rights reserved.