SBA proposes rule on Certifications for Women-Owned Small Business Program Participation

The U.S. Small Business Administration has published a proposed rule that will establish a free online application process for women-owned small businesses to be certified and eligible to participate in the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Program and to access government contracts as a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) or Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) under this program.  The certification requirement applies only to participants wishing to compete for set-aside or sole source contracts under SBA’s 8(m) program.  

The proposed rule would:

  • Provide that SBA will establish a free electronic application process for all firms seeking to be certified as WOSBs or EDWOSBs. In the pursuit of speed, efficiency, and ease of administrative burden, applicants would apply online through an electronic application process.
  • Allow participation from an expanded list of federal and state entities with existing certification programs and confirm the continued participation of approved third-party certifiers.
  • Require approved third-party certifiers to notify applicants of their fees and the option to use SBA’s free online certification process.
  • Eliminate the self-certification option for SBA 8(m) program participants.
  • Adopt a $750,000 net worth standard when assessing economic disadvantage for eligibility for both the 8(m) EDWOSB Program and the 8(a) Business Development Program.

The proposed rule is intended to increase the number of federal contract awards to WOSB and EDWOSB-certified businesses and better empower agencies to meet their 5 percent federal contracting goal for women-owned small businesses.  By establishing a transparent, centralized, and free certification process, the SBA aims to provide contracting officers with reassurance that firms participating in the WOSB Program are eligible for awards and encourage them to set aside contracts for women-owned small businesses.

  • The text of this proposed rule and related information is posted here.
  • Comments on this rule are due by July 15, 2019 and can be submitted here.
  • Advocacy contact: Major Clark at