Women have faced significant challenge to become successful entrepreneurs and leaders. Even so, sexism and a host of other isms continue to throw up obstacles. But certifying as a woman-owned business can help overcome them.
Take a closer look at the benefits of being a certified woman-owned business. Find out about the qualifying criteria your enterprise needs to meet before you can register.
Grant And Funding Application OpportunitiesExclusive opportunities to apply for grants and other funding is one of the best reasons for going through the process of certifying as a woman-owned business. Given the ongoing Covid pandemic and its effect on businesses owned by women, certification makes sense for that reason alone.
A recent American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses report found that the number of enterprises owned by women grew by 21% between 2014 and 2019. As encouraging as that figure is, the pandemic dealt a harsh blow to female entrepreneurs and business owners.
Babson College’s Diana International Research Institute found that 67% of women business owners said their revenue decreased because of the pandemic. More alarmingly, the National Bureau of Economic Research estimated that 25% of women-owned businesses closed completely between February and April 2020.
Thanks to the federal and state government as well as corporations and institutions, women entrepreneurs have been able to apply for grants and funding for years before the pandemic. Since the first outbreak of Covid, the government and other institutions have offered funding to help businesses survive during the pandemic.
Whatever the source or intention of the funding and grant opportunities, most if not all have eligibility requirements that might require you to submit official certification by a third party. Certifying as a woman-owned business can make application processes smoother.
The Open Meadows Foundation, the Amber Grant, the Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program and the Florida Office of Supplier Diversity’s Loan Mobilization Program are among the grants and other initiatives that serve businesses owned by women.
Education And Training Program AccessGovernment agencies, certifying organizations, and numerous companies and institutions of learning offer exclusive education and training programs to women-owned businesses. In addition to accessing courses, workshops, coaching, and other programs, you may be offered free or low-cost consulting services.
For example, one of the U.S. Small Business Administration’s (SBA) approved third-party certifiers, NWBOC, offers training events such as webinars. Such programs usually are available only to certifiers’ members or to certified SMEs.
Women-Focused Mentorship ProgramsYou can benefit from certifying as a woman-owned business by gaining access to mentorship programs focused on empowering women. You also gain access to relationship training and other resources. Online workshops and certifying agency-organized events where you can meet your online mentor face to face are available too.
There’s no understating the importance of good mentorship. When Endeavor Insight sifted through data on more than 1,000 women entrepreneurs and interviewed entrepreneurship support organization representatives, it made an important finding. Those who were able to scale their businesses to 50 or more employees were 10% more likely to have mentors who also were successful entrepreneurs.
Enhanced Marketing Potential And Networking OpportunitiesEnjoy greater marketing potential and more opportunities to network by certifying as a woman-owned business. This benefit usually happens via the third-party certifying agencies, much like the mentorship programs mentioned above.
Those opportunities, as well as the potentially greater visibility that comes through certification, let you:
- Add yourself to local directories
- Be eligible for various awards
- Focus on individuals who want to support female entrepreneurs
Access To Bid And Proposal LeadsCertifying as a woman-owned business can make it easier to find leads for bids and proposals through the organization you are certified with. Corporations, government purchasing agencies, and institutions often send requests for proposals to approved certifiers. The certifiers then send the information to the businesses they certified.
Access To Large Corporation And Federal ContractsThe potential of working with government and other sectors doesn’t end with access to leads for proposals when you certify as a woman-owned business. You also get access to programs that could result in contracts with purchasing agencies for local, state, and federal government, and with public corporations and large companies.
The federal government has a statutory goal of awarding 5% of contracts to small businesses owned by women. When it comes to businesses, thousands accept third-party certification. While others may require you to certify through their own programs. Coca-Cola, Pfizer, Verizon Communications, and Walmart are some of the corporations with supplier diversity programs.
A recent Hackett Group study found that approximately one-third of tier-1 diversity spend goes to women-owned businesses in the U.S. Globally, businesses owned by women are the biggest diversity category.
As you can see, getting your business certified can be advantageous for almost every aspect of your SME. There are opportunities for training, being mentored, submitting proposals to corporations, applying for government funding, networking, marketing, and much more. Let’s take a look at the criteria your business needs to meet for certification.
Qualifying As A Woman-Owned BusinessYou will need to meet various criteria to certify your business as woman-owned. These criteria vary from organization to organization. For example, the requirements for the Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting program, you must:
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by female U.S. citizens
- Be a small business
- Ensure women make long-term decisions for the business
- Ensure women manage operations on a daily basis
- One or more women, each with a personal net worth less than $750,000, must own and control the business
- One or more women, each with personal assets worth $6 million or less, must own and control the business
- One or more women, each with an adjusted gross income of $350,000 or less (average over the previous three years), must own and control the business