Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE)
Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) is a designation used by the US government and certain other organizations, including industry agencies, to encourage and support female business ownership. A women-owned business must meet these criteria to be certified as a WBE:
- Be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women. Also, it must be primarily managed by one or more women. The women must be US citizens.
Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB)
The federal government must give at least 5% of its contract dollars to women-owned small businesses (WOSBs). In addition to the criteria described above for a WBE, a WOSB must meet these criteria to be certified:
- Be “small” for its industry according to the Small Business Administration (SBA) size standards
- Be of a certain type of industry. (See WOSB Qualifying North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) codes.)
What Are the Benefits of Being a Certified Women-Owned Business?
WBE certification affords a network of support, education, and mentoring opportunities. It increases a business’s visibility in programs designed to support a business growth. Some of the advantages offered through local, state, and federal government for WBEs or WOBs are certain:
- Tax incentives
- Loan guarantees
- Grants – For the NIH, companies can self-identify as women-owned small businesses and receive support in submitting grants via outreach by NIH staff and programs and corporate-sponsored grants. For example, women-owned businesses potentially qualify for. . .
- Applicant Assistance Program (NIH) – A 10-week program to support first-time SBIR applicants in preparing their grant proposals.
- NIH administrative supplements to grants from some institutes or programs.
- Corporate-sponsored grants for women-owned businesses sponsored by several large corporations.
- Contracts – The federal government has a goal of giving at least 5% of contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses (SBA, 2023). (See “Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program” in Resources below.)
- Tax advantages for their investors
- Other benefits provided by some businesses
- Training, education, and development programs to
- Develop business and leadership skills
- Support capacity development
State, regional, and local business bureaus can provide information on what advantages are available.
SBA. WOSB Federal Contract Program Administration. 2023.
Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program – Includes information on how to get certified as a women-owned small business.
Top 10 Benefits Available for Women-Owned Businesses in the US – Describes the definition and status of US women-owned small businesses of all types and ten advantages available to them. Blog by Samir Sampat for Smith, a virtual receptionist firm.
Accelerating Innovation: Funding for Women Entrepreneurs in Biotechnology and Healthcare – Webinar co-hosted by three NIH agencies (NCATS, NHLBI, NCI) and the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). Describes programs and funding opportunities, and provides advice to support women-owned small businesses and women in research and technology transfer. Video length: 1:19 hours (*Starts at the 6-minute mark.)