Women-owned businesses are an important part of the economy; according to the American Express OPEN "The State of Women-Owned Businesses 2019”, women-owned businesses in the U.S. generate $1.9 trillion in revenue and employ 9.4 million people.
If you’re a woman-owned business, you may be eligible to register with the Small Business Administration for access to resources, federal contracts, and loan programs. There are also third-party certifications offering their own benefits.
Woman-Owned Business Example: The StampMaker (Rubber Stamps Unlimited)
The StampMaker has been a certified women-owned business under the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) since 2007. The business was purchased by its current owner in 1993. Maryellen Lewandowski had looked at a number of business opportunities, but Rubber Stamps Unlimited fit what she saw as a business with the potential to grow into new markets and new regions of the country. She initially started networking with women-owned business organizations to learn how other owners handled different day-to-day business decisions.
Eventually, Maryellen decided to get certified as a women-owned business through the WBENC. The process to get certified required a lot of documentation and a site visit from WBENC to ensure that the business was actually owned and controlled by a woman. Maryellen appreciates that the certification process was so thorough and can now easily do the annual recertification online, with a site visit required every few years.
As a certified woman-owned business, she has continued to use resources available through the program and has benefited from being able to connect with larger companies who seek out women-owned businesses to purchase from.
What is a Woman-Owned Business?
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), a woman-owned business “must be at least 51% owned and controlled by women.”
How to Register as a Woman-Owned Business?
To register as a woman-owned business, you will need to apply through beta.certify.sba.gov or go through an approved TPC.
Woman-Owned Business Benefits
In the United States, the SBA helps coordinate programs to support women entrepreneurs, including “business training, counseling, federal contracts, and access to credit and capital.”
Small businesses may also be eligible for SBA loan programs and/or assistance through the 8(a) Business Development program, which helps provide “a level playing field for small businesses owned by socially and economically disadvantaged people or entities.”
There are also non-financial benefits of being a diverse, woman-owned business. According to a survey from The Manifest, 70% of job seekers value a company's commitment to diversity when evaluating potential employers.
Women-Owned Business Certification
Some third parties also offer their own certifications for women-owned businesses. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States. They are also an approved third-party certifier for the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program.
The WBENC certification has a number of benefits, including access to networking events and programs, a national database of organizations with supplier diversity programs, education opportunities, and more.