Step 1: Decide which certification is right for your business
There are several different designations that qualify as a women-owned small business:
• Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) — This program from the Small Business Administration (SBA) certifies businesses that are run by women who have 51% ownership or more of the company.
• Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) — Also run through the SBA, this program is for businesses that meet the WOSB criteria but also meet certain financial requirements, such as the owners having less than $750,000 in assets and an annual income of less than $350,000.
• Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) —Run by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council , it offers the option for joint certification as a WOSB through the SBA.
• State and local programs — Some states and local governments have their own certification programs for women-owned small businesses.
Determine which certification is right for you. For example, if you’re interested in federal contracts, it may be better to seek out certification as a WOSB or EDWOSB because these are federal programs. If you’re only interested in local jobs, then a state or local certification might be best.
Step 2: File your application
The SBA allows you to file for WOSB or ESWOSB certification directly with them for free. But you may also apply through four designated third-party organizations:
These organizations each charge a processing fee, but in return, you may get better service and faster turnaround times.
Step 3: Get (and keep) your certification
The application process can take several weeks or even a couple of months. Once you’re approved, you’ll be awarded a certificate.
It’s a good idea to put your new status on any marketing materials to notify your customers. You can add a small “Women-Owned Business” notification on your website and social media profiles.
You’ll need to re-certify your business as a WOSB or EDWOSB every three years (or every single year for a WBE). Remember to do this ahead of time, because if your certification lapses, you’ll need to go through the application process again.
Fulton Bank, N.A. Member FDIC
Fulton Bank is not affiliated with any of the third parties mentioned.