WBENC is an approved third party certifier for the SBA’s Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting program.

Any women-owned business that applies for WBENC Certification may also simultaneously apply for WOSB certification through WBENC.

Eligibility
  • The applicant company must be “small” in its primary industry in accordance with SBA’s size standards for that industry, as identified in 13 CFR 127. Please view the listing of NAICS and their size standards for verification.
  • The applicant company must be at least fifty-one percent (51%) unconditionally and directly owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens.
    Management and daily operation must be controlled by one or more of the women owners.
  • The women owners must make long-term decisions for the business.
  • One of the criteria below must also be true for CORPORATIONS ONLY:
    • Women must make up a majority of the Board of Directors OR have a majority of the Board votes through weighted voting.
    • Women must make up 51% of the voting power, sit on the Board AND have enough voting power to overcome any supermajority requirement.
  • WBENC uses a two part process to ensure that the applicant company meets the WBENC WOSB Standards. This will include a thorough review of the documentation presented and a site visit interview with the female owner/s.
  • Please review the WOSB Ready site as a resource for requirements associated with the program.
  • View a comprehensive listing of the WOSB Program NAICS Codes.

NOTE: If the applicant company is currently debarred or suspended from Federal Government Contracting, the company is not eligible for WOSB certification.

Additional Requirements

  • Applicant must possess a DUNS # (Request one here)
  • Applicant must be registered in SAM* (System for Award Management)
  • *NOTE: There is NO FEE for the SAM registration. Please ensure the correct site is accessed: www.sam.gov.
  • If you are experiencing difficulty registering in SAM, see supplemental instructions.

WOSB Federal Contracting Eligibility 

  • The federal government may restrict competition under the WOSB Program only in certain industries. 13 C.F.R. 127.500.
  • SBA has designated those industries applicable to the WOSB Program by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code.
  • If any NAICS code, listed on your WOSB certificate, appears as a WOSB code on the NAICS listing for the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program set asides, you are ELIGIBLE.
  • View the list of NAICS codes.
Benefits

To help provide a level playing field for women business owners, the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the women’s contracting program.

These contracts are for industries where women-owned small businesses (WOSB) are underrepresented. Some contracts are restricted further to economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB). The SBA maintains a list of those eligible industries and their NAICS codes.

Joining the WOSB Federal Contracting Program makes a business eligible to compete for federal contracts set aside for the program.

Through WBENC, a women-owned business can earn WBENC Certification and WOSB Certification through the same process.

Process
Documentation Required
  • Proof of ACTIVE registration in SAM (Printout of Entity Overview)
    • Go to www.sam.gov (NOTE: The is NO FEE required for SAM registration when using the correct government website provided.
    • Click on “Register/Update Entity” from My SAM menu
    • Click “Completed Registrations”
    • Select Company Name under Entity List
    • Click “View” under Registration Details
    • Opens into Entity Overview for printing
    • SAM registration must be validated before the status is listed as Active. This process normally takes 3-5 business days; however, due to the new requirement (see below), the process is taking multiple weeks. If interested, please begin the SAM process immediately to not delay the certification process.
    • As of June 11, 2018, entities registering in SAM must submit a notarized letter appoint their authorized Entity Administrator.
    • One of the following documents must be submitted:
      • Printout of first page of IRS Form 941 (for previous 4 quarters)
      • W-3 from previous year
      • Current list of employees (ONLY if the previous two items do not apply to our company)
        • If you are a sole owner of the applicant company, please provide a statement listing yourself as the only employee

NOTE: In order to be processed for the WOSB certification, the company’s Primary NAICS Code must align with the Principal Business Activity listed on the company’s federal tax return.

How to Apply

If interested in WOSB certification, the applicant MUST select ‘Yes’ when answering the first question of the online application in Section 1: General Information, “Would you like to apply for WOSB certification?”

NOTE: Applicants may only apply for WOSB Certification when applying as a new or recertifying WBE applicant.
Upload the WOSB Documentation listed in ‘Required Documents’ section

Once WOSB/WBENC Certification is Granted

Once WOSB/WBENC certification is granted, applicants must complete the additional United States SBA required steps to be eligible to participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting Program.

First, determine if you are eligible to participate in the WOSB Federal Contracting Program: 

  • The federal government may restrict competition under the WOSB Program only in certain industries. 13 C.F.R. 127.500.
  • SBA has designated those industries applicable to the WOSB Program by North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code.
  • If any NAICS code, listed on your WOSB certificate, appears as a WOSB code on the NAICS listing for the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program set asides, you are ELIGIBLE.

Additional Steps:

  • Represent status in System for Award Management (SAM) as WOSB*
  • Go to beta.certify.sba.gov
    • Scroll down and click on Get Started
    • Click Create Account
    • You will be redirected to SBA Connect site via Login.gov
    • Click Create an account and follow the prompts to claim your business then submit an application and upload your WBENC-issued WOSB certificate.
      • IMPORTANT: Please ensure an owner or officer of the company signs the attestation during the application process; otherwise, the application will be returned.
    • Once your certification is confirmed, you will receive a formal confirmation from the SBA.

*If not eligible to participate in the set aside program, only Step 1 needs to be completed.

NOTE: The SBA will grant a three-year WOSB certification, which requires the completion of an annual attestation via beta.certify.sba.gov. If you are certified through WBENC, WBENC will continue to process your WOSB recertification annually to upload as part of your attestation requirement.

Any questions regarding the SBA site should be directed to betacertifyhelp@sba.gov

WOSB certification is offered during the WBENC Certification process.
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Regional Partner Organizations administer WBENC & WOSB certification across the U.S.
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FAQs
How does this help women-owned businesses?

The program provides government-owned procuring agencies a tool to help meet their WOSB contracting goal of 5% of prime contracting dollars being awarded to WOSBs. Additionally, restricting competition to qualified WOSBs and EDWOSBs increases their success to compete for and win federal contracts. (Note that WBENC will certify WOSBs, not EDWOSBs.)

What industries does this affect?

There are 38 four-digit North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) codes which equates to over 150 six-digit NAICS codes which WOSBs are eligible for Federal Contracting under the WOSB Program. Additionally, there are 45 four-digit North American Industry Classification Systems (NAICS) codes which equates to over 200 six-digit NAICS codes which EDWOSBs are eligible for Federal Contracting under the WOSB Program. WBENC is only providing certification for WOSBs at this time.

To see what codes are eligible, please view the complete listing of the WOSB Program Applicable NAICS Codes.

What does this mean to WBENC-Certified WBEs?

If you are a WBENC-Certified WBE who is interested in pursuing WOSB certification and you are currently providing goods and services in the eligible NAICS codes categories, you will complete the steps outlined here.

Who administers the WOSB Federal Contracting Program?

The United States SBA is charged with implementing and administering the program. This means that United States SBA publishes regulations that provide framework for the program, develops and maintains the WOSB Program Repository, conducts eligibility examinations of WOSBs, reviews and makes decisions on protests, approves third party certifiers, conducts studies to determine eligible industries, and works with other Federal agencies in assisting WOSBs and EDWOSBs.

How long may I participate in the program?

There is no term limit on program participation like there is in the 8(a) Program. You can bid WOSB Program contracts as long as you are eligible for the program and have met all of the requirements set forth in the regulations.

What is the cost for WOSB certification?

WBENC is currently providing WOSB certification as a complimentary service during the WBENC WBE certification process.

Are all companies eligible for the WOSB certification?

If the 51% is owned by an ESOP, holding company or irrevocable trust, the company is not eligible. For more details, please review the WOSB Ready site.

Are there any additional steps that need to be taken once I receive WOSB certification from WBENC?

Yes, please follow the instructions for Once WOSB/WBENC Certification is granted here.

Does WBENC offer the EDWOSB certification?

No, WBENC only offers the WOSB certification.

Do I have to pay to get WOSB certification?

No, the SBA offers a free application process that can be completed at beta.certify.sba.gov. Choosing to proceed with WBENC provides you with the option to obtain dual certification, WBE and WOSB.

Have questions about the WOSB certification process?
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