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What is certification?

There are two forms of certifications available to women-owned businesses:

Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) Certification is certification for women-owned businesses to be eligible for or work on federal contracts

  • To be eligible for WOSB certification, a firm must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women.
  • The women must be U.S. citizens.
  • The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with the Small Business Administration’s size standards for that industry.
  • In order for a WOSB to be deemed “economically disadvantaged,” its owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the requirements set forth in the final rule which qualifies you for EDWOSB certification.                                                                                 

Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification is for women-owned businesses to be eligible for and work on corporate opportunities that are also recognized by state and local entities.

  • To be eligible for WBE certification, a woman(en) must own, manage, and control at least 51.0% of the business.
  • The woman owner must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident.
  • The woman owner must serve as President or CEO (if both positions exist).
  • The woman owner must have ownership and officer position for at least six months and the woman owner must be active in daily management.

Why does certification matter?                                              

  • WOSB and WBE certification certifies that a woman (or women) has majority (at least 51%) ownership and control of a business entity.
  • Women business owners say that certification can be important because it supports their business development strategy by giving them access to new markets and contracts.
  • Certification that a business is owned by a woman is required if you wish to participate in programs which require utilization and tracking of woman-owned businesses, such as corporate supplier diversity programs or federal procurement programs.
  • Having WBE Certification is the only way that purchasing agents have confidence that a business representing itself as woman-owned is in fact woman-owned. Most publicly held corporations, as well as larger private corporations, track and/or have programs for doing business with women business owners.
  • Also, most local, state, and federal government purchasing agencies track and have programs for doing business with women-owned vendor companies. They, too, rely on WOSB Certification.

How do you get certified?

First make sure you fit the criteria above depending on the type of certification you want (WOSB or WBE) and then you can either visit one of the below certifiers or you can self-certify. You can learn more about that option here: https://www.sba.gov/content/women-owned-small-business-program

What does it cost to apply for WBE/WOSB Certification?

Certification fees all vary by vendor. See price rates below.

How long does the certification last?

For most vendors, certification lasts one year and must be renewed annually. The only exception is the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce which lasts 2 years.

Is there an annual re-certification fee?

Recertification fees vary by vendor. See price rates below.

Is the re-certification paperwork as involved as the original certification application?

No, it is much easier. Unless there has been a significant change in your business, very little paperwork is required.

Where can you get certification?

There are four SBA-approved third party certifiers. You can also self-certify (information below):

El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

The El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce serves as a vital resource connection for the small minority, women and disadvantaged business community – and for the past 21 years, it has served as the primary catalyst to bring regional coordination and synergy to local minority business development.

The mission of the El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce is to promote the interest of the businesses we serve, to improve the economic and educational environment, to foster representation on major issues of public policy that impact Hispanics, minorities, and other small and minority owned business entities, and to promote the awareness and preservation of the heritage and cultural diversity shared in our region.

The application process costs $225.00 and your certification lasts for two years, from there they will notify you in advance of the documentation needed to recertify.

Contact EPHCC: Call (915) 566-4066

National Women’s Business Owners Council

Created in 1995, NWBOC was established to increase competition for corporate and government contracts through implementation of a national certification program for women business owners. The development of their national Woman Business Enterprise (WBE) certification program, sponsored by IBM, involves cooperation and input from over 700 public and private sector individuals. The result was the creation of the WBE Application, the process, and the NWBOC Standards and Procedures.

NWBOC helps you promote your business in several ways. Once you are WBE certified with NWBOC, you are automatically listed in or have access to the following promotional tools, all FREE:

  • Complimentary Platinum Level Vendor listing in NWBOC's interactive eProcurement MarketPlace (Value $300)
  • Complimentary listing in NWBOC's internal procurement database of WBE-certified companies;
  • Procurement list of over 1,000 private and public sector purchasing contacts;
  • The NWBOC Quarterly Newsletter, in which your "good news" story can be highlighted;
  • The NWBOC logo and WBE Certification designation so that you can add it to your marketing materials and website.
  • WBE Certification is a tool you use for new business opportunities; to help set your company apart in the marketplace, and to add credibility.

The application fee for obtaining WBE Certification is $400. The application fee for obtaining the SBA's WOSB and EDWOSB Certifications is also $400. The fee for applying for both at the same time is $700, which saves you $100 if applying separately.

The certification lasts one year before re-certification is necessary.

After the first year the annual recertification fee is $200 for gross sales under $2,000,000 and $300 for gross sales over $2,000,000.

Contact NWBOC: info@nwboc.org or call 1-800-675-5066

U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce

The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce unifies the collective strength of women to leverage our position as the most influential economic force in America. Women have moved from the home to the workforce, home ownership, elected office, and business ownership. By leveraging our collective strength, we are taking the reins to own our future. Through the foundation of a groundbreaking new economic platform, we have taken a bold and deeply strategic step empowering women to own the future. By taking ownership of our business and financial education and solutions, we put an end to target marketing of women, and are building a sustainable economic foundation that powers the long-term needs of our community and future generations.

Certifications offered:                         

  • USWCC Federal: Women-Owned Small Business Certification (WOSB)
  • USWCC Federal: Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business Certification (EDWOSB)
  • Federal Women's Business Enterprise (FWBE)
  • National Women's Business Enterprise (NWBE)
  • International Women's Business Enterprise (IWBE)

Their non-refundable certification services fees are $275 for U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce Business and Suppliers Members; $350 for Non-Members. When you pay for and complete the EDWOSB or WOSB first, your certification payment will also cover charges for the NWBE and/or IWBE certification. Recertification must happen every year and costs $350 dollars, annually.

Contact USWCC: Call 888-418-7922 or Live Chat available at http://www.uswcc.org

Women’s Business Enterprise Network Council

The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), founded in 1997, is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States. WBENC, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit, partners with 14 Regional Partner Organizations to provide its world class standard of certification to women-owned businesses throughout the country. Outside of the United States, certification is provided by our alliance partner, WEConnect International.

Certification is the cornerstone of WBENC’s value proposition.  The WBENC certification standard is the most relied upon certification of women-owned businesses. Certification is administered throughout the 50 United States, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands by our 14 Regional Partner Organizations. Internationally, certification is administered by our MOU partner, WEConnect International.The ongoing goal for WBENC certification is to be the most valued certification of women-owned, operated, and controlled businesses, which is recognized by public, private, non-profit and government entities.

Fees for certification through WBENC are determined by each RPO based on the specific markets served. Please contact the appropriate RPO directly to determine applicable fees. Simply visit the Regional Partner Organizations territory map, then select your state from the Regional Map to identify the correct RPO for your region/state. Once documents have been received, the fee is non-refundable. The "non-refundable policy" applies to applications that are accepted and/or denied, as well as applications that were not completed or withdrawn prior to final determination.

Recertification is not automatic. The owner is sent a courtesy reminder 90 days prior to the expiration date of the company's certification.

Contact WBENC: ngreen@wbenc.org (for certification) or call 202-872-5515

 

Self-Certification via the WOSB Program at the U.S. Small Business Administration

Certification is also possible through the SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting Program. You can self-certify by following their detailed instructions on the SBA website.

To be eligible for self-certification, a firm must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women. The women must be U.S. citizens. The firm must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry. Additionally, in order for a WOSB to be deemed “economically disadvantaged,” its owners must demonstrate economic disadvantage in accordance with the requirements set forth in the final rule.

Self-certification is free. You can start the process here.