Women Owned Businesses to Be Awarded More Government Contracts

August 18, 2011

August 18, 2011

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The federal government is making strides in ensuring that women owned businesses get a larger piece of the funding pie. And rightfully so.  Last year, only 3.4% of all federal dollars were granted to women owned businesses, despite the fact that they account for 11% of total business revenue and employ 13% of the nation’s […]

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The federal government is making strides in ensuring that women owned businesses get a larger piece of the funding pie.

And rightfully so.  Last year, only 3.4% of all federal dollars were granted to women owned businesses, despite the fact that they account for 11% of total business revenue and employ 13% of the nation’s workforce.  The federal government has announced that it will strive to grant 5% of federal contracts to women owned small businesses.  Not exactly equal when you look at the numbers, but at least it’s a good start.  Here are the specifics of how it works.

The contracts will be granted under the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program, and will start in the last quarter of this year.  If you’re interested in working with the government, here are some things you should know.

  • Visit the website. The SBA website offers many tools and is willing to help you get started with the process.
  • Check the list. The government lists 83 industries that you must qualify under in order to receive grants.  The list is extensive and covers every imaginable area of business, but you should make certain your business industry falls within the list before you spend any time on the process.
  • Get registered. When the federal procurement officers need a contractor, the first thing they do is look on the Central Contractor Registration National Database (CCR).  Ensure that your name is seen by registering—it’s free.
  • Get Help. American Express has teamed up with Women Impacting Public Policy to help women learn the ins and out’s of getting contracts from the federal government.  The program is called “Give Me Five” (referring to the governments desired 5 percent goal), and so far has helped 25,000 women owned businesses register their information on the CCR.  Their website also has lots of valuable information about the process.
  • Get Certified. Your business must be at owned by at least 51 percent women and managed by at least one woman to be certified as a women-owned business.  In addition, you can’t have more than 500 employees if you are in the manufacturing or mining industry, or make more than $7 million in any other type of business.   You can either self-certify by following the directions on the SBA site, or contact the four approved organizations listed on the site for an outside certification.
  • Submit the proper documentation. There are a host of forms and certifications that you’ll need to submit in order to be qualified.  For a complete listing and instructions, visit their website.
  • Finally, you have to sign into the Online Representations and Certifications Application (ORCA) which is the vehicle that the federal government uses to collect the required paperwork needed for its contracts.

As with anything related to the government, the process of bidding on federal contracts isn’t easy, but in an economy when it seems to be the only sector growing, it just may be worth your time.

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