According to the World Economic Forum, 49% of all businesses being started in the U.S. today are by women. And women already own 42% of all U.S. businesses. Are there any special programs that present opportunities for women business owners? Consider the following:
The goal of the federal government is to award 5% of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses each year. Given that federal contracting totals about $100 billion, this is a lot of contracting dollars.
Women who own businesses that meet certain qualifications can join the Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program to become eligible to compete for federal contracts. This means you are a small business within the SBA definition of such, the business is at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens, and there are women in day-to-day operations who make long-term decisions.
Another option is to be an Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business (EDWOSB). For this, you must
- Meet all the requirements of the WOSB Federal Contract program
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with a personal net worth less than $850,000
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with $450,000 or less in adjusted gross income averaged over the previous three years
- Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each $6.5 million or less in personal assets
To do this, you must become certified as a WOSB or an EDWOSB and maintain your certification. There is a self-certification process for this. Consider participating in a webinar that gives an overview of certification and the process.
Special loan opportunities
One of the perennial complaints of many women business owners is access to capital. According to a QuickBooks survey of women entrepreneurs last year commissioned by the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), 49% of respondents said more funding was their top priority and “the smaller the business, the greater the funding challenge.” There are many loan programs available to small business owners—both women and men—though women seem to have a harder time qualifying.
There are not many loan opportunities exclusively for women. IFW (I Fund Women) can help women find funding, such as SBA 7(a) working capital loans.
Grants are “free money” because they don’t have to be paid back. There are numerous grants offered each year, usually with very specific criteria. Again, IFW can help. It has a universal grant application that can be used to connect you to a grants listed in a database.
SCORE has a list of the top small business grants for women in 2023. Be sure to watch for deadlines and submit all required information in order to stand a chance at landing grant money.
My message to women business owners: Never stop looking for new opportunities because they’re out there.
From Francis Bacon (with a little paraphrasing): A wise woman will make more opportunities than she finds.