How to Get Certified As a Woman-Owned Business

In the world of business, women are considered to be a minority regardless of their race. Many government contracts and business arrangements require that a minimum percentage of business transactions be handled using minority owned businesses. For this reason, getting a business certified as woman-owned can be advantageous and open up new markets for goods and services. But, who offers certification and how does one get her business certified as woman-owned?

The Nation Women’s Business Owners’ Corporation (NWBOC) is the first organization to offer a certification program for woman-owned businesses. The NWBOC is a non-profit organization created in 1995 to provide assistance to woman business owners in competing for government and corporate contracts. Their Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certification program is one step in this process.

In order to get her business certified as woman-owned, a woman or group of women must make an application to the NWBOC for certification and supply business paperwork that supports the claim that the business is at least 51% owned and controlled by a woman or women. Incorporation papers, a partnership agreement, or a county DBA (doing business as) fictitious name filing will normally suffice.

The second step takes place at the NWBOC where the application and supporting paperwork are reviewed in detail to verify that the legal owner of the business is, indeed, a woman or group of women. Once the review is complete and the paperwork has passed inspection, a site inspector will be meet with the owner(s) at the actual location of the business to see how the business is operated on a daily basis and verify that a woman is in charge of making the day to day decisions associated with running the business. These inspectors may be other woman business owners, CPAs, or other professionals with enough business experience to determine how the business is being run and who has actual control, regardless of what is on paper.

The final step along the road to certification as a woman-owned business is the decision making by the NWBOC. They will write a letter to the business owner telling whether the business is or is not being certified as a woman-owned business and why. The conditions that must be met to be certified are a little strenuous to ensure that the businesses who receive certification are truly owned and managed by women so that government and corporate entities can be comfortable in the knowledge that they are fulfilling their mandate to do business with minority owned businesses when they trade with WBE certified businesses.

Business is difficult at best in today’s business climate. Women who own their own businesses are at a major disadvantage in dealing with many corporate and government entities. Getting certified as a woman-owned business through the NWBOC is one of the best steps a woman business owner can take toward making the playing field more level for her business. WBE certification can be very handy at making woman-owned businesses more competitive in the business world today.