What Are the Requirements and Advantages of the Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) Certification?

Four women working in a business meeting in a cafe coffee shop

Are you a woman small business owner looking for help getting your business to the next level? According to a 2020 report on the Annual Business Survey, about 20.9% or 1.2 million were businesses owned by females, which is a 1% increase compared to 2019.

These small businesses run by women are a growing part of the economy. Also, the certification process is the first step toward furthering their success for many entrepreneurs. These can help them gain more customers and increase their credibility and visibility. So, if you are a growing woman-owned small business, here is everything you need to know about the requirements and advantages of the EDWOSB certification.

What is an Edwosb certification?

Economically disadvantaged women-owned small business (EDWOSB) certifications are composed of the organizations included in the NAICS code where women are underrepresented. There are set-aside contracts specifically for women-owned small business (WOSB) and EDWOSB-certified businesses.

Female-owned businesses with an EDWOSB certification are qualified in both EDWOSB and WOSB set-aside contracts

What are the eligibility requirements for the EDWOSB certification?

It is no longer allowed to self-certify as of July 15, 2020. This means that WOSB or EDWOSB certification needs a stricter and more formal approval process. Here are the requirements:

1. 51% of the firm must be owned by one or more women that are U.S. citizens.

2. 51% of the firm must be woman-controlled, including the long-term strategic planning

  • Ownership of the woman must be full time
  • The woman should prove she can run the business

3. The female owner should be able to demonstrate her skills to be in charge of the business.

4. The business must adhere to the NAICS guidelines

  • Must have less than 500 employees
  • The revenue of real estate must be below $2 million
  • The revenue of services and products must be below $4.5 million

5. The woman or women’s personal net worth should not exceed $750,000 (this excludes the ownership in the WOSB firm, their residence, and the sum of money allotted for retirement accounts)

6. The woman or women’s adjusted gross income should not exceed $350,000 annually for the past three years

7. The owner’s fair market value of assets should not exceed $6 million (this excludes the owner’s retirement accounts)

Who certifies EDWOSBs?

It is stated in the Small Business Act that contracting officers must set aside specific requirements open only for women business owners certified under WOSBs and EDWOSBs. This is called the WOSB program.

A WOSB or EDWOSB should be:

1. Certified by the state government, a national certifying organization approved by the Small Business Administration, or a federal agency, known as third-party certifiers.

2. Provide proof to the contracting officer that they are a small business owned and controlled by women and supply enough documentation as stated in the SBA standards.


EDWOSBs and WOSBs should register and self-certify their status in the System for Award Management (SAM).

Third-party certification

A woman claiming economic disadvantage certification may acquire it from an SBA-approved third-party certifier. The SBA accepts such certifications from the DBE, DOT, or by the SBA itself as an 8(a) participant. Also, a third-party certification copy should be prepared for the WOSB program repository.

Here are the organizations approved by the Small Business Administration:

What are the benefits of EDWOSB certification?

a group of people sitting around a wooden table
Photo by CoWomen / Unsplash

A woman-owned business certification provides women entrepreneurs several advantages to support their growing businesses. The federal government must set aside at least 5% of proposals for businesses under this certification. Here are the benefits of getting certified:

1. Increase visibility

Inclusion in the federal government’s small business contracts database is important because a large percentage of federal contracts are awarded through this system. Being listed here will help your company get noticed by government buyers who might want to do business with you.

At present, there are over 13 million female-owned businesses in the United States. EDWOSB and WOSB certifications can help your business increase its exposure and build on its reputation. Applying for WBENC allows certified companies to use the seal and logo to promote their business further.

2. Acquire leads for bids and proposal

Women business owners are encouraged to join the SBA WOSB Federal Contracting program using their EDWOSB or WOSB certification. The program is limited to specific set aside contracts for participating businesses. These are mainly for industries where WOSBs were underrepresented in the past. So it aims to promote diversity and equality.

In addition, they may also participate in soul-source contracts. The Small Business Administration supports disadvantaged and small business owners through the federal contracting program’s complexities.

3. Access networking and educational opportunities

Certified businesses get access to SBA’s training resources for EDWOSBS and WOSBs, including

Participating agencies may provide mentoring and networking opportunities for certified women-owned small businesses. Also, you’ll get a chance to join joint venture agreements with other contractors and companies through the contract teaming arrangement.

Do EDWOSB certifications expire?

For female business owners who wish to keep their certifications (WOSB and EDWOSB), it is important to know that the SBA mandates participants to attest once a year to the meeting program requirements stated in 13 CFR 127. This annual requirement should be provided within a month of their certification’s anniversary date.

Also, businesses must undertake a program examination once every three years. The SBA or the third-party certifier may either conduct it. For more information about the step-by-step certification process, they may visit the knowledge base to keep their certification.

Businesses close to their yearly attestation and recertification are welcome to attend the SBA’s free training webinar in the following 1 to 4 months. Lastly, if they can accomplish their annual attestation a month before expiry, they can keep their “certified” status.


What are the benefits of women-owned small businesses?

Two women working on a computer together
Image by StartupStockPhotos / Pixabay

Women in the United States are starting businesses at a rate of 1200 per day. If there’s one thing we know about women-owned small businesses, they are successful and have many potentials. Here are some reasons why:

1. Access to many funding opportunities

Women-owned small businesses have access to a wide array of funding opportunities, including grants and contracts from national and federal agencies. While not all programs are exclusive to women, they are more welcoming to the underrepresented.

2. Explore new markets

Aside from gaining access to contracts and grants, it also gives them the chance to get certified as a women-owned business. This certification helps meet new clients. Also, the SBA started the Federal Contracting Program in 2011. This program was created to allow small businesses to compete for contracts with the federal government.

3. Attract new employees

It can attract dedicated and talented employees looking for an opportunity for a female-friendly company that embraces diversity

4. Welcoming to new clients

A growing number of clients prefer partnering with women-owned businesses. So, registering as one can give endless sources of business revenue. Another reason women-owned businesses are appealing is that the federal government has provided tax incentives to those who work with women.

Lastly, women tend to be more mission-driven than other small businesses because they often have a greater interest in making a difference in their communities than simply making money. They also tend to be more aware of the importance of communication and building relationships and teamwork, which are qualities that can help businesses grow.

5. Better at business relationships

Women are generally better at building and strengthening relationships with their vendors, suppliers, and clients than men. They have an innate ability to connect with others and build lasting relationships. This is why so many people prefer to purchase at female-owned businesses or have women represent them when it’s time for negotiation.


What is Women Business Enterprise (WBE)-Certified?

Being WBE-certified means a female is in the majority of the control and ownership of a business. Its leading authority and certifier is called the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), which is also one of SBA’s third-party certifiers.

This certification is one of the most popularly known and renowned certifications for women-owned businesses in the United States because the certification process is rigorous. Its long and thorough process makes the certification a gold standard. Further, it’s recognized by thousands of companies in different states and cities.

WBE eligibility requirements

Here are the minimum requirements to qualify for Women Business Enterprise programs in a local state, country, or city:

  • Must be a for-profit company in the U.S.
  • Must be 51% owned by one or more women
  • Must have a female executive officer in charge of day-to-day operations of the business
  • Must have governing board led by a woman
  • Must be owned by one or more legal residents or American women

How to know if WBE certification fits your business?

As stated above, it is not easy to qualify for this certification, and the process is tedious compared to others. To get started, here are things you may ask yourself if you should go for the certification:

1. Do you have the means to seek the contracts you might be eligible for?

This means you should be prepared to have the energy, resources, and time to pursue them. The Woman Business Enterprise certification’s purpose is to be a marketing tool. Getting certified can’t even assure your company will receive contracts here and there.

2. Are you willing to negotiate with many government agencies and corporations?

Getting certified is not a requirement to be a private or government contractor. They only usually require certifications. If big companies and federal agencies are not your preferred business partners, the WBE certification might not be one of your needs.

 3. Can your business support itself to obtain large contracts?

It is not ideal for starting small enterprises to start doing business on the government or corporate contract scale. If you think you are unprepared, you can create partnerships with other minority- or women-owned businesses (for multiple-award contracts). If it’s still not possible, you might need to take some time to grow your business before going through the WBE certification’s application process.

4. Can you provide the necessary private and confidential information about your business?

Certification employees usually ask for confidential information, including capital investments, tax returns, and more, to give them enough information to determine and analyze your enterprise’s eligibility. It might not be suitable for you if it’s a business concern.

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Written by Skyler Bernards

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