Grants and Loans: Funding Your Woman-Owned Small Business
Good news for women in business: as of February of 2012, the federal government is in the process of instituting new rules to encourage the competitiveness of women-owned small businesses. Called the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program, the act will provide loans, grants, or federal contracting opportunities for many women in the business world. The possibilities are tantalizing: a WOSB offering services is eligible for up to $3 million in funding, while a WOSB in manufacturing can receive up to $5 million. Here’s how to reap the benefits for your woman-owned small business.
Qualify As a Small Business
In order to be eligible for these benefits and opportunities, your company must conform to several different standards. First of all, it must meet the Small Business Administration’s definition of a “small business.” The standards will vary depending on your industry, but generally, businesses in manufacturing must have fewer than 500 employees, while businesses in other industries can total no more than $7 million yearly in receipts. Additionally, small businesses must be designed for profit and must have a place of business within the United States.
Qualify As Woman-Owned
Once you’re a certified small business, you must also qualify as woman-owned. At least 51 percent of the company must be owned by one or more women who are also U.S. citizens. The ownership must also be unconditional, meaning that, regardless of the situation, ownership can’t be compromised based on any provisions, arrangements, or circumstances.
Additionally, the business can’t just be woman-owned; it must also be woman-controlled. A woman must control at least 51 percent of the company, meaning that she is responsible for long-term decisions and daily management. The highest position in your business, be it President or CEO, should also be held by a woman. Standards for a company with a board of directors are similar: at least one or more women must own 51 percent of the voting stock, and their combined votes must be enough to comprise a supermajority.
Qualify in the Right Industry
While attaining Federal WOSB certification is impressive enough, securing a federal contract is a key way of making the most of your business. To be chosen for a WOSB Federal Contract, your business must fall in one of 83 areas of industry in which the Small Business Administration maintains women are underrepresented. If your industry doesn’t make the list, don’t panic—consider expansion or explore other partnership options.
Here’s a quick list over at SBA.gov: Applicable NAICS Codes
Process for Applying
The SBA lists five steps for applying for the WOSB certification.
- Read the compliance guidelines and the regulations in the Federal Register.
- Register your business at the Central Contractor Registry.
- Get an SBA General Login System (GLS) username and password.
- On SBA GLS, go to the WOSB program page where you can start uploading the required documents.
- Update your ORCA (Online Representations and Certifications Application) with the WOSB certification.
Let the Fun Begin
Now that all your paperwork is in order, get down to business: apply for loans, grants, and federal contracting opportunities. With some tenacity, you’ll be able to get the most of your woman-owned small business. With added funding, you can ramp up your online marketing efforts, by improving your site’s design, hiring an agency, pursuing pay-per-click or leveraging advertising options previously out of your budget, and so much more.
If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to contact the SBA. They have offices all over the country with experts in every state to help you with setting up your certifications. So as you run into roadblocks or questions, drop them a line. You can look up your local representative on the SBA.gov website.
Write for us
Experienced writers, marketing professionals, SMB owners: Want to share a story from the trenches?Learn More