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Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Certifications

What is the WBE Certification?

WBE stands for Women’s Business Enterprise and is a powerful marketing tool for female business owners. To qualify for a WBE Certification, the business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women, and primarily managed by one or more women who are U.S. citizens. In general, the woman business owner should be the highest paid, and unlike the WOSB which is for small businesses, any female-owned business of any size can become WBE designated, provided they meet all the requirements.

The SBA recognizes the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council or WBENC as a national certifying body for this important designation. The WEBENC WBE certification opens doors to you as a supplier and offers many benefits to women business owners. These include the WEBENC national association with many training, networking, and assistance opportunities for women business owners to learn government marketing and improve their management skills to grow their businesses. The WBE certification is mainly for woman-owned firms that want to do business with larger companies that have a supplier diversity department.

What Are the Requirements for the WBE Application?

Some of the information required to pursue the WBE certification include:

  • General Business Information
  • Owner Eligibility
  • Financial Structure
  • Financial Documents
  • Personnel Information
  • Management Information

Other FAQs about the WBE Certification

What is the difference between a WBE certification and a WOSB certification?

The WBE is the Women’s Business Enterprise certification that is administered by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council or WBENC, the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce, and most States. To qualify, the business must be owned and run by a woman who has industry experience. The WBE certification is favored by large businesses with a supplier diversity program. The WOSB is the Woman Owned Small Business Certification administered by the SBA and is favored by state, local, and the federal government. The differences between the two certifications are the certifying bodies and what types of clients are targeted by each certification, but they both designate your business as a woman-owned small business. A WBE can be any sized business, but the WOSB must meet the SBA standards for a small business.

How do you qualify as a woman-owned business?

To qualify as a woman-owned business the business must be owned at least 51% and directed by a woman (or women) with significant industry experience. And in general, the woman business owner should be the highest-paid.

What size business qualifies as a small business?

In general, the answer varies by industry, but a small business is one that has fewer than 1,500 employees and a maximum of $38.5 million in average annual receipts, according to the SBA.

What is a WOSB?

A Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) is a business designation administered by the SBA and the US Women’s Chamber of Commerce. Economically disadvantaged women business owners can also apply for the EDWOSB. This certification has a rigorous application and is favored by the federal government and some States for contracting and is only for small businesses.

Who qualifies as economically disadvantaged?

An economically disadvantaged woman is one who has a net worth of less than $750,000 according to the SBA.

How long does it take to get WBE or WOSB certified?

It depends on which certifying body you apply to, but it generally takes about 60 days.

Which certification is best for my company?

This depends mainly on your target clients. Do you want to work with larger companies that have supplier diversity programs like Target? In that case, the WBE is the right choice. Do you want to work with the Federal Government? Then the WOSB or EDWOSB is the right certification. Do you want to work with the state or local government where your company is located? In this case, you should check with your state’s website to see which certification is favored. Contact Cayenne Consulting for assistance in determining which certifications are best for your business.

Do female-owned businesses get tax breaks?

In general, no, but the companies that hire certified woman-owned firms can get tax breaks.

What are the benefits of being a Women’s Business Enterprise?

The federal government incentivizes companies with supplier diversity programs with tax breaks if they hire certified women-owned firms.

How much does WBE or WOSB certification cost?

There is no charge for the cost of the EDWOSB or WOSB, but WBENC charges a fee to join their organization to process your application. Their fee is based on the annual revenue of your company and starts at about $300. These fees and the certification must be renewed each year.

Is a female-owned business considered a minority-owned business?

In general, no, but some states do have a single MWBE certification that covers both women and minority business owners. And, of course, if the woman business owner also has a minority ethnicity, she can apply for a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) certification too.

Can my business be certified if we are a startup?

The answer is yes.

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