What is certification?

How do I get certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB?

Businesses have two options to qualify as a women-owned small business (WOSB) or economically-disadvantaged women-owned small business (EDWOSB) under the WOSB Federal Contract Program (WOSB Program). Businesses may self-certify or obtain a certification from one of the four third party certifiers approved by SBA. Please be advised that one is not advantageous over the other. A self-certification is free and a third party certification has a fee.

If you decide to self-certify, the following five steps should be taken:

  1. Review the eligibility requirements for a WOSB or EDWOSB. In order to qualify as a WOSB, a business must be controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens through ownership and management. Ownership must be direct and not subject to any conditions. A woman must manage the day-to-day operations and make the long-term business decisions for the business. The woman must hold the highest officer position, should not be engaged in outside employment, and must work at the business full-time during normal business hours. In order to qualify as an EDWOSB, a business must meet all the WOSB eligibility criteria. In addition, one or more women must demonstrate economic disadvantage. Detailed information on the eligibility criteria is provided in Code of Federal Regulations Title 13 Part 127.200.

In summary, to qualify as a WOSB, a business must meet the following requirements:

  • Meet small business size standard for primary NAICS code and contract – – Your business must be small as defined by the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Title 13 Part 121.105(a). Regulations provide that a business must be organized for profit; primarily operate in the U.S.; and have a place of business in the U.S. and make a significant contribution to the U.S. economy for use of American labor, materials or products and payment of taxes. Foreign firms MAY qualify as a small business provided that it meets the requirements under 13 CFR 121.105(a).
  • At least 51% unconditionally and directly owned by women who are S. citizens
  • The woman must manage the day-to-day operations
  • The woman must make the long-term decisions for the business
  • A woman must the hold highest officer position in the company
  • This woman must work at business full-time during normal working hours.
  • No minimum amount of time for the business to be operational

To qualify as an EDWOSB, a business must meet all the requirements for a WOSB, as well as the following requirements:

  • Personal net worth (assets minus liabilities) is less than $750,000 excluding:
    • Equity in business and primary personal residence
    • Income from LLC or S Corp that was reinvested or used to pay taxes of business
    • Funds invested in official retirement accounts if unavailable until retirement without a significant penalty
  • Adjusted gross income average over three years is $350,000 or less excluding:
    • Income reinvested or used to pay taxes of business
  • Fair market value of all assets is $6 million or less excluding Funds invested in official retirement accounts if unavailable until retirement without a significant penalty

 

  1. Ensure that you have an active registration in sam.gov. 

 

  1. Go to https://certify.sba.gov to start self-certification as a WOSB or EDWOSB. We recommend that you review information on the Certify Help page including the User Guide (http://s3.amazonaws.com/sba-public-production/original_certifyuserinstructions.pdf). Then, return to the Home page and click on the “Get Started” button. The system will walk you through the self-certification process. Any technical issues should be directed to help@certify.sba.gov.

 

  1. When logged in, select the Programs tab on top of the page. Then, select the WOSB Program and click on the “Start a new application” button. Please see Page 6 of the User Guide ((http://s3.amazonaws.com/sba-public-production/original_certifyuserinstructions.pdf) for more information.

 

  1. Upload the documents to the Certify site to demonstrate your firm’s eligibility as a WOSB or EDWOSB. Please be advised that the eligibility documents vary depending upon your firm’s legal structure. The list of required documents is may be found on Pages 3 through 5 of this document. Once the eligibility documents are uploaded, update your firm’s SAM reps and certs as a WOSB or EDWOSB. Please note that SBA does not issue a certification letter as businesses self-certify as a WOSB or EDWOSB on the Certify site.

 

If you decide to seek a third party certification, you need to obtain a certification from one of the following certifiers:

Additional information may be found on the WOSB Program website at www.sba.gov/wosb. If you have any questions, please email the WOSB Program Office at wosb@sba.gov.



Required Documents

1. Self-Certification:

A business concern may self-certify as a WOSB or EDWOSB in certify.sba.gov. In order to do so, a business concern must have an active SAM registration; complete the WOSB or EDWOSB Certification in certify.sba.gov; and have the following:

Limited Liability Companies (LLC)

  • Birth certificates, naturalization papers, or unexpired passports for owners who are women
  • Articles of organization (also referred to as certificate of organization, or articles of formation) and any amendments
  • Operating agreement and any amendments
  • Joint venture agreement, if applicable
  • Assumed/Fictitious name certificate (doing business as or dba), if applicable

Corporations:

  • Birth certificates, naturalization papers, or unexpired passports for owners who are women
  • Articles of incorporation and any amendments
  • By-laws and any amendments
  • All issued stock certificates, including the front and back copies signed in accordance with the by-laws (this also applies to all cancelled stock certificates)
  • Stock ledger
  • Voting agreements, if any
  • Joint venture agreement, if applicable
    • Assumed/Fictitious name certificate (doing business as or dba), if applicable

Partnerships:

  • Birth certificates, naturalization papers, or unexpired passports for the owners of the concern in the agreement designated as the WOSB
  • Partnership agreement and any amendments
    • Joint venture agreement, if applicable
    • Assumed/Fictitious name certificate (doing business as or dba), if applicable

Sole Proprietorships:

  • Birth certificates, naturalization papers, or unexpired passports for owners who are women
  • Assumed/Fictitious name certificate (doing business as or dba)

Self-Certification:

A business concern may self-certify as a WOSB or EDWODSB in certify.sba.gov. In order to do so, it must have an active SAM registration; complete the WOSB or EDWOSB Certification in certify.sba.gov; and have the following:

EDWOSB–Economically Disadvantaged Woman-Owned Small Business

Note: If the woman owner of a business concern wants to claim economic disadvantage and qualify for an EDWOSB, the concern shall complete in certify.sba.gov the EDWOSB Certification that includes a personal financial statement and upload the required documents listed on page 1.  Furthermore, it is required to upload the following documents to certify.sba.gov.

  • Three most recent personal income tax returns including W-2’s and all schedules for each woman claiming economic disadvantage and such woman’s spouse (unless they are legally separated)
  • IRS Form 4506-T, Request for Tax Transcript-from you and your spouse (if applicable)

Definition: The Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) is the codification of general and permanent rules and regulations (sometimes called administrative law) published in the Federal Register by the executive departments and agencies of the federal government of the United States. The electronic copy of the CFR is available at http://www.ecfr.gov

 

2. Third Party Certification:

A business may obtain a WOSB or EDWOSB certification from a third party certifier. SBA approved four (4) third party certifying organizations to assist with the implementation of SBA’s WOSB Federal Contracting Program.

The organizations are:

  • El Paso Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (El Paso)
  • National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC)
  • S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce (USWCC)
  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) – WOSB only

When a concern is certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB by one of the four organizations, it must complete the WOSB/EDWOSB Certification in certify.sba.gov and upload the following documents into certify.sba.gov. 13 CFR § 127.300(d).

  • Current certificate (displaying WOSB/EDWOSB certification and effective date)
  • Joint venture agreement, if applicable

Note: The WOSB Program is accepting WOSB or EDOWSB certification only from the above-referenced third party certifiers.  No exceptions will be granted. SBA does not accept DBE certifications from the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) or WBE certifications from State governments.

Applicants may submit the 8(a) certification to demonstrate their eligibility for an EDWOSB.  Given that the 8(a) Business Development (BD) Program and the WOSB Program apply the same criteria to determine the economic disadvantage status of an applicant, active 8(a) BD Program participants are not required to upload the financial documents in order to self-certify as an EDWOSB. Nevertheless, certified 8(a) firms are still required to complete the EDWOSB Certification in certify.sba.gov and upload the following documents:

  • 8(a) acceptance letter
  • Most recent annual review letter
  • Joint venture agreement, if applicable

The annual review letter refers to the SBA-issued letter stating an applicant is eligible to continue to participate in the 8(a) BD Program. Firms are required to upload the annual review letter for the most recent review period every year.

For more information on certify.sba.gov, please review the Help page: https://certify.sba.gov/help_pages.

For more information on the WOSB Program, please visit www.sba.gov/wosb.