March is Women’s History Month and the theme this year, “Refusing To Be Silenced,” commemorates the suffragette movement. This is a time to reflect and honor those who fought for women’s right to vote. When the suffragettes marched on the street and demanded to be heard via the vote, they were also asking for identity in politics and business. In 1972, according to the US Census, only 4.6% of businesses were owned by women, by 2019 that rose to 42% and it continues to grow at just under 4% annually. Women Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) represent a strong and growing resource for revenue and employment in the US. However, there is still a long way to go to meet the full potential of WOSBs.
One powerful way to be heard as a woman business owner in New York State is to become properly certified as a NYS Women Business Enterprise (WBE). Once certified, the business becomes eligible for Minority & Women Business Enterprise (MWBE) procurement and contracting opportunities with NYS Agencies and Authorities. The business will be able to utilize lending and bonding programs created exclusively for NYS certified MWBEs, as well as being listed on the NYS MWBE Directory of Certified Firms. MWBE owners receive customized alerts for upcoming procurement opportunities by registering with the NYS Contract Reporter and gain access to a statewide network of services and support for MWBEs, including invitations for business development workshops.
In, New York, a WBE is defined as a business with a 51% ownership share by a woman or women, and the women must exercise authority over the daily management of the business. Other qualifying factors are a Personal Net Worth of less than $15M and employing less than 300 employees. The business must be independent and active for at least one year to certify. Each owner must provide copies of current personal and business Federal and State Taxes. Once the business determines it is eligible and all the required documentation is ready, visit the New York State Contract System (NYSCS) at: https://ny.newnycontracts.com
Certification can also be pursued through the SBA at: https://www.sba.gov/federal-contracting/contracting-assistance-programs/women-owned-small-business-federal-contracting-program.The SBA WOSB Certification gives women business owners access to the Federal Contracting Program, where the government limits competition for certain contracts to businesses that participate in the program. These contracts are for specific industries where WOSBs are underrepresented. Some contracts are restricted further to economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses. The SBA maintains a list of those eligible industries and their NAICS codes.
If you have questions about certification, or need assistance with your application, please contact me. I can also connect you with additional resource partners who can help you complete your certification process. As the Business Development Specialists for the Cayuga Economic Development Agency’s (CEDA), I provide Cayuga County small businesses and entrepreneurs with free and confidential assistance.