Monday, August 29, 2011

The New SBA Woman-Owned Small Business Program Explained

Leveling the Federal Contracting Playing Field

Congress has set a goal to help woman-owned small businesses (WOSBs) gain their share of the federal contracting market.  That is to say, a minimum of 5% of federal contracts should go to WOSBs.  However, WOSBs only received 4% of the $400+ billion contracts awarded annually well shy of the 5% statutory goal.

Some of the industries included in the list are 'Interior Design Services' (541410), 'Environmental Consulting Services' (541620), and 'Business Support Services' (561499).  This article can help you understand this program, or call Ember Accounting (425-373-6210 or  to help you determine if you are eligible and get certified with the program.

In an effort to address this shortfall and create a more level contracting playing field for women-owned small businesses, in late 2010 the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the final rule that would implement the  WOSB program. Formally known as the Woman-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, the goals of the program were outlined by SBA Administrator, Karen Mills, in the agency’s press release:
Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy…That’s why providing them with all the tools necessary to compete for and win federal contracts is so important. Federal contracts can provide women-owned small businesses with the oxygen they need to take their business to the next level.”
While the WOSB Program was formally launched by the SBA in February 2011, it wasn’t until April 2011 that the federal procurement officials were able to set-aside contracts under the program.
So what is the WOSB Program and how can you take advantage of it? Here’s what you need to know and the steps you need to take to get your business certified to participate!

What is the WOSB Program?
The WOSB Program is a win-win for WOSBs and EDWOSBs (Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses) and the federal government.  WOSBs now have an opportunity to compete for and win contracts specifically set aside for WOSBs.

There are over 300 industries (PDF) (in the contracting world these are known as NAICS codes) where WOSBs and EDWOSBs have been deemed “underrepresented” or “substantially underrepresented”. Contracting officers can do a WOSB or EDWOSB set-aside contracts in these industries if:
  • There is reasonable expectation that two or more WOSBs/EDWOSBs will submit offers.
  • The anticipated award price of the contract does not exceed $6.5 million in the case of manufacturing contracts and $4 million in the case of all other contracts.
  • In the estimation of the contracting officer, the contract can be awarded at a fair and reasonable price.
Interested bidders can look on the Federal Business Opportunities web site to find federal government solicitations that may be set aside for WOSB or EDWOSBs

Are you Eligible for WOSB/EDWOSB Set-Asides?
To help determine your eligibility for the WOSB program you’ll need to be ask yourself a few eligibility questions:

1. Are you a small business as defined by SBA standards for your industry? –

2. Are you a woman-owned small business (WOSB)?
3. Does your business function within one of the over 300 industries (known as NAICS codes) for the WOSB program?

4. Are you an economically disadvantaged woman-owned small business (EDWOSB)?

There will also be two informational seminars hosted by Ember Accounting to help you understand the program and decide how to best proceed.
Call Ember Accounting (425-373-6210 or to help you determine if you are eligible and sign up for our informative seminar.

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