Written by Dr. Roni M. Glover, PhD
Women-owned businesses in the U.S. are celebrating significant and continuous growth, regardless of concerns of race, size standards, and industry (including non-traditional industries for women). These businesses collectively employ millions of people and generate over a trillion dollars in revenue. Federal contract dollars are spent with women-owned small businesses (WOSBs), which are small businesses with, at least, 51% owned by one or more women and its management and operations are controlled by one or more women.
Challenges experienced by WOSBs include access to capital, technical assistance, training, and opportunities to gain government contracts. The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act was established in 1994 to urge federal agencies to award a minimum of 5% contract dollars to WOSBs. The Small Business Administration (SBA) is committed to helping WOSBs overcome obstacles in the business world.
While the SBA fervently supports WOSBs, recent reports indicate the 5% goal has not been met. A set-aside rule reserves some contracts for underrepresented businesses but the award level for contracts to WOSBs still lingers close to 3%. Measures presently exist to increase opportunities to compete in federal contracting.
The Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) has provided and oversees Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) throughout the country. The WBCs offer technical assistance to new and established women entrepreneurs. There are other available resources prepared to encourage, counsel, teach, and inspire.
Though certification as a WOSB is not required by the federal government, self-certifying through the Central Contractor Registration and/or through private national women’s business organizations is encouraged. The criteria needed for classification are that the business is organized for profit, has a place of business in the U.S., contributes to the U.S. economy, and does not exceed its industry size standard. For more information about WOSBs and special assistance, explore the following resource links: