certified women-owned business

Women-owned small biz federal contract program, friend or foe?

Maria_Contreras_Sweet_portrait

Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator

Are you a certified minority or women-owned business? And what does the certification mean for your business? Is your business qualified for minority or women-owned certification just because you are a woman or a minority?

I have asked these and other similar questions to several Latinas business owners and few of them were indeed certified or knew the answers.

According to the Small Business Administration, President Obama’s signature of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2015 is a critical move for women-owned small businesses to earn their fair share of the federal marketplace and gain economic opportunities.

Although legislation existed since 2000, implementation has been a promise since President Obama took office. Finally, it was implemented in April 2011. Section 825 of the NDAA authorizes federal agencies to award sole-source contracts to women-owned small businesses eligible for the Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program, giving women the same level of access to the federal contracting marketplace as other disadvantaged groups.

“Women entrepreneurs are growing at an unprecedented rate.  More than one in four U.S. companies is owned or led by a woman, and these firms employ more than 7.8 million Americans.  Passage of the women’s small business provision in NDAA is a win for women entrepreneurs and a win for America.  This will help women-owned small businesses gain equal access to federal contracting as they add jobs to the U.S. economy.  A big thank you to the leaders of the Senate and House Small Business and Armed Services Committees for helping make this a reality,” said the head of the U.S. Small Business Administration, Maria Contreras-Sweet.Our economy won't work

Currently, women entrepreneurs are receiving less than five percent of federal contracts.  This new provision will give the SBA a new tool to continue to open doors for more women entrepreneurs in the federal and commercial contract space.    SBA’s efforts include aggressively offering support for the Women-Owned Small Business Contract Program, which aims to expand federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses.

Tina Dante, CEO/President, The Metamorphosis Group, shared on the LinkedIn group Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), “This has been a long time coming, and I heartily applaud it! HOWEVER, I sure hope there is oversight on this, because this also brings out the worst in people. It already is a challenge to compete with other supposedly “woman” owned businesses in the federal market, when we all know that the ‘woman’ is nowhere to be found….the real front person is a husband or a close friend. Let’s hope that the SBA keeps tight reins on this program.”

Vilma Betancourt-O’Day, President at Women Wrule, also clarifies on the same discussion: “I am a Certified Site Visitor for the National Women Business Owner’s Corporation (NWBOC), an approved 3rd party WBE certifier, a WBE/Minority/Small Business Certification consultant and an experienced Government Contractor (Federal, State, Local Municipalities. According to the Government Accountability Office (GAO)’s report on the WOSB Certification Program, two groups representing WOSBs stated that Contracting Officers prefer 3rd party certified WOSBs/EDWOSBs as the review process is less tedious for them. Fraud has already been an issue with this program as there is little to no oversight on the Self-Certified WOSBs/EDWOSBs,” she says.

And she continues: “Based on my experience as a Government Contractor, if a business entity does not have sufficient money to spend on marketing its services and/or products to the Government (and the WBE Certification is a huge marketing tool), they’re not prepared to sell to the Government. You must have enough cash to cover your payroll and other expenses incurred while working on the contract, until you get paid by the Government. It takes lots of money to get into the Federal arena. The Agencies want to make sure that you have enough cash in the bank so you don’t default on the contract.”

“Bottom line,” she adds, “Any WBE that wants to grow their business with Government or Corporate Supplier Diversity contracting, should invest in themselves and their businesses with a WBE/Minority/Small Business Certification. It must be part of their annual marketing budget.”

What is your experience regarding this topic?  Share with our community your story so we can learn form each other!

WOSB Program Third Party CertificationUpdated

The SBA has approved four organizations to act as Third Party Certifiers under the WOSB Program. The four organizations and contact information are:

Women Owned Small Businesses may elect to use the services of a Third Party Certifier to demonstrate eligibility for the program, or they may self-certify using the process outlined here on this website. SBA will only accept third party certification from these entities, and firms are still subject to the same eligibility requirements to participate in the program.

Please note, at the request of WBENC, SBA has approved WBENC only for the certification of WOSBs and not for the certification of Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs.

 

About Susana G Baumann

Award-winning journalist, author, multicultural expert, public speaker, small business advocate and the Editor-in-Chief of LatinasinBusiness.us. Susana is an Argentinean immigrant who started her own small business over 20 years ago. Now, through her new digital platform and social media channels, she advocates for the economic empowerment of Latinas in the United States.
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