Certified for Success | NAWBO

Getting certified as a woman-owned business takes commitment and more often than not grit. But it can potentially pay off in business opportunities, government contracts and exclusive resources from certifying organizations—leading to increased success.

If you are a female entrepreneur and you’ve never thought about certification offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA) or a third-party certifier like the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) or soon-to-be NAWBO Institute, check it out to see how it might benefit your business specifically.

Under the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program, businesses can qualify as WOSB (Women-owned Small Business) or EDWOSB (Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business). A third-party certifier like the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) offers the Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certification.

There are currently 12.3 million women business owners in the U.S., yet less than 1 percent are WBE certified. There’s tremendous opportunity for more agencies to help certify these women, which is why NAWBO is stepping up to offer third-party WBE certification through the NAWBO Institute starting this summer. You can read more about it in this issue of NAWBO ONE.

The most important difference between the certifications is who they target. WOSB’s purpose is to ensure women business owners have equal opportunity to federal contracting, while the WBE certification is more common for the private sector.

So what’s right for you? The best way to decide is to check the website of the organizations to see if one offers a particular benefit to your company, or if one has more networking opportunities to help you grow. Another way is to start asking potential customers whether they require a particular certification.

Meanwhile, here are some of the perks you’ll find through certification:

Getting Certified as a WOSB or EDWOSB

  • Increased visibility: If you work primarily with business-to-business transactions and third-party vendors, getting WOSB certification can increase your exposure and reputation.
  • Potential financial benefits: The goal of this government program is to award women contracts in industries where they are typically underfunded and overlooked. While getting certified doesn’t guarantee you’ll win the most lucrative contracts, you will be in a better position to compete.
  • Potential educational benefits: Once certified, you can apply for the SBA mentor-protege program to learn from an experienced government contracting officer who will provide technical assistance as well as mentoring on different business facets. 

Getting Certified as a WBE

  • Increased access to corporations: Once certified, you’ll be better positioned to work with larger corporations. Also, you can often gain access through a different door—the supplier diversity department versus the marketing department.
  • Access to conferences, networking and education: WBENC and NAWBO both have local and national events throughout the year that provide valuable learning opportunities and put women business owners in front of a vast network of other successful entrepreneurs.
  • Marketing boost: Having a WBE certification shows customers that you are not only a viable business, you’re a viable women-owned business, which is important for many.

Lastly, NAWBO has thousands of members across the country, and many have already certified their businesses. Ask around to find a few who have been through the process. Why did they want to get certified? How did they choose their certifying organization? What tips can they offer about the process? What did they wish they knew going into it? And how has certification benefitted their business? You’ll definitely want to ask these questions and more!

—Cristina Morales Heaney
  2021-2022 NAWBO National Board Chair

Related Posts

2023-2024 NAWBO National Editorial...
December 01, 2023

2024 NAWBO National Editorial Calendar For questions or submissions, please e-mail publications@...

Let’s Keep Thriving Together
November 15, 2023

The word “thrive” means different things to different women business owners—depending on where we...

Powering Our Dreams Together
October 25, 2023

Wow…just wow! We always say that there’s a certain energy and excitement to NAWBO’s signature...

Relationships: They’re Meant to Be...
September 20, 2023

As women, one of the things we’re known to be excellent at is building relationships. But how about...

Passion + Sustained Perseverance = Grit
August 16, 2023

When we set out to become women business owners, we were likely attracted by the idea of pursuing...

July 19, 2023

The definition of “visible” is to be easily seen and understood. As women business owners, we all...

Mid-Year Check
June 19, 2023

We’re halfway through the year, and that means we’ve been plugging away for months now to move the...

Global Minded
May 17, 2023

As women business owners, we are continually shaped by—and shape—the world around us. To build...

Cheryl Inokon Is Helping Mission-Driven...
April 26, 2023

  How do you define success? To me, success is synonymous with freedom. It means having the...

Smooth Stepping
April 19, 2023

As women business owners, there are so many reasons why we’d have to step away from our businesses...

Digital Transformation
March 15, 2023

Business success is about understanding and meeting or, better yet, exceeding customer needs. But...

Leadership Matters
February 15, 2023

Finish this sentence: A leader is… Perhaps phrases like “a good listener”, “a mentor”, “someone...

3 Tax Credits You Can Use to Grow Your...
January 18, 2023

If you’re in the process of growing your business, these three types of business tax credits can...

Recession Proof
January 18, 2023

We’ve all been striving to put the pandemic far behind us. However, many of us continue to feel the...

Go For the Goal
December 14, 2022

As woman entrepreneurs, we all want business success—however we define it. To reach that next place...

Power Your Dream
November 16, 2022

“The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.” —Eleanor Roosevelt As a...

Ready, Set, Sell!
October 19, 2022

Every woman business owner has a product or service that they’re responsible for selling. But are...

On the Money
September 21, 2022

If women business owners had the ability to improve one thing to open doors of opportunity for the...

Defining DEI&B
August 17, 2022

Building an inclusive culture isn’t just the right thing to do; it makes good business sense....

Seat at the Table
July 20, 2022

The word “advocacy” might sound overwhelming at first to a woman business owner who has never...