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Self-Certification of Women-Owned Businesses

Can I Self-Certify My Business as a Women-Owned Business?


Can I Self-Certify My Business as a Women-Owned Business?

Yes, you can.

There are no legal requirements to formally certify as a women-owned business, but it is still not necessarily a good idea to self-certify. The law permits first-time bidders to “self-certify,” if they meet certain conditions of being a women-owned business.

However, this self-certification can be challenged upon procurement award. If this happens, the procuring agency may request proof of the firms’ WOB status, or even require certification. If you fail to comply, you could lose the award.

Your business may also be over-looked as there is considerable discretion among contracting officers in how they accept, approach, and award contracts. A formally certified women-owned business may, in the eyes of a contracting officer, be preferable.

Should You Certify as a Women-Owned Business?

Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR) Definition of “Women-Owned Small Business"

The term “women-owned small business concern” as defined by the FAR means that the business:

  • Must be at least 51 percent owned by one or more women; or, in the case of any publicly owned business, at least 51 percent of the stock of which is owned by one or more women; and

  • Management and daily business operations must be controlled by one or more women.

It is important to note, however, that the Small Business Administration (SBA) has other, more specific criteria for women, including:

  • The business must be independently owned and operated,
  • Must be organized for profit, and
  • Is not dominant in its field or industry.

Additionally, the SBA further defines “small business” based on industry, number of employees, and receipts.

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