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Women face more than the gender pay gap when it comes to economic headwinds.

Learn More About Women-Owned Small Business Programs

March 8, 2019
By Comerica Bank

Women face more than the gender pay gap when it comes to economic headwinds. There are also specific challenges that women entrepreneurs and women-owned small businesses undergo compared to their peers and the rest of the market, respectively.

Lack of access to financing and bias in contract awarding can negatively impact the success of these organizations. However, the federal government and many other advocacy groups have made boosting support for women-owned small businesses a priority. Tackling the particular pains and pressures of being a female entrepreneur can be as easy as learning more about the women-owned small business programs that are out there to help.

Certification as a women-owned business

There are many programs designed to specifically help women- or minority-owned ventures. For instance, some companies make a specific point to reflect diversity in their supply chains by increasing the footprint of women-owned businesses. However, before organizations can take advantage of such opportunities, they must fulfill one essential prerequisite: becoming certified as a women-owned small business. There are a couple of options for certifying bodies and business designations to brush up on, including:

  • The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) designation offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).
  • Certification from the Women's Business Enterprise National Council™ (WBENC).
  • Certification from the National Women Business Owners Corporation™ (NWBOC).
  • Designation as an economically disadvantaged women-owned small business (EDWOSB) from the federal government.

Though what qualifies a business for certification differs slightly depending on the options, especially regarding economically disadvantaged status, general criteria include: 

  • U.S.-citizen women directly owning at least 51 percent of the business.
  • Women overseeing day-to-day operations and making long-term decisions.
  • A woman holding the highest possible rank of officer.

Applicant organizations should ready their cases with plenty of other documentation, as the process is known to take time. The reward, however, can be immeasurable, as certified businesses can take advantage of:

SBA WOSB Contracting Program

The SBA maintains a federal contracting program designed to steer contracts toward deserving, certified WOSBs. The contracts typically reserved for the program are from industries where women-owned businesses are underrepresented, and the SBA's leveling of the playing field helps position WOSBs to compete in the federal contracting arena more effectively. Some example industries include forestry, construction, civil engineering, industrial manufacturing and energy. Businesses can be certified directly by the SBA or through the WBENC.

WBENC or NWBOC benefits

When a business is certified by either the WBENC or NWBOC, that enterprise is now entered into the fold and able to access the full range of benefits each organization offers. For instance, small businesses can display the logo of their accrediting body in a storefront or on marketing materials. The WBENC and NWBOC also run conferences, seminars, training sessions, networking events and other opportunities, while engaging with corporate partners with whom their members then have established inroads.

Getting help as a women-owned small business doesn't end with certification. There are other avenues of support and opportunity offered by institutions committed to the success of these firms. Talking to Comerica Bank today can help connect women-owned small businesses with lending assistance and financial advice.



This information is provided for general awareness purposes only and is not intended to be relied upon as legal or compliance advice. 

This article is provided for informational purposes only. While the information contained within has been compiled from source[s] which are believed to be reliable and accurate, Comerica Bank does not guarantee its accuracy. Consequently, it should not be considered a comprehensive statement on any matter nor be relied upon as such.