Woman Owned Business Accreditation Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

Mar 5, 2024

IBA, as the premier business brokerage firm in the Pacific Northwest, is firmly established as a respected professional service firm in the legal, accounting, banking, mergers & acquisitions, real estate, and financial planning communities.  Periodically, we will post guest blogs from professionals with knowledge to share for the good of owners of privately held companies & family-owned businesses. The following blog article has been provided by Sally Bergesen. Ms. Bergesen is a business broker at IBA (www.ibainc.com):

Woman Owned Business Accreditation Opportunities for Entrepreneurs

Designating your business as woman-owned in Washington State can open up a world of opportunities and benefits. Not only does it contribute to diversity and inclusion efforts, but it also makes your business eligible for various programs and contracts aimed at supporting women-owned enterprises. In this post, we will walk you through the process of officially designating your business as woman-owned in Washington State and highlight the benefits of doing so.

Step 1: Verify Eligibility

Before applying for woman-owned status, ensure that your business meets the eligibility criteria set by the Washington State Office of Minority and Women’s Business Enterprises (OMWBE). Generally, the business must be at least 51% owned, controlled, and operated by one or more women who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

Step 2: Register with the OMWBE

Create an account on the OMWBE’s online portal. This will be your hub for all interactions related to your woman-owned business designation. Be prepared to provide essential information about your business, such as ownership details, certifications, and business structure.

Step 3: Complete the Certification Application

Fill out the certification application thoroughly, ensuring accuracy and honesty in all responses. Attach any required supporting documents, such as tax returns, proof of ownership, and financial statements. Be prepared to provide details on the management and control of the business by women.

Step 4: Pay the Certification Fee

There is typically a certification fee associated with the application process. Pay the fee online through the OMWBE portal. Note that the fee may vary, so check the current fee structure on the OMWBE website.

Please note that the Federal Government also offers a similar certification:

SBA Woman-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program

In Washington State, for example, there are federal government contracts available out of JMB Lewis-McChord and Hanford, among others. These entities have ‘small business set-asides’ for contracts with women-, minority-, and/or veteran-owned businesses.

Benefits of Designating Your Business as Woman-Owned:

  1. Access to Contracts and Opportunities: Many government and private organizations actively seek woman-owned businesses for contracts and partnerships. Certification opens doors to a variety of opportunities.
  2. Networking Opportunities: Being part of the woman-owned business community in Washington State provides networking opportunities with other certified businesses, government agencies, and corporations.
  3. Business Development Assistance: The OMWBE and SBA offer resources and support to certified woman-owned businesses, including training programs, workshops, and access to business development resources.
  4. Inclusion in Supplier Diversity Programs: Many corporations and government agencies have supplier diversity programs that aim to include businesses owned by minorities, women, and other underrepresented groups. Certification enhances your eligibility for such programs.
  5. Increase the Value of your Business: When it comes time to sell your company, you may find that the designation increases the value of your company, as buyers are seeking businesses that have protected government contracts and/or other customer assurances.

At IBA, we’re proud to have a strong track record of representing women business owners in the successful sale of their companies.  As a previous business owner, myself, I know the process can be challenging, and create a lot of uncertainty. Today, my goal is to change that, and be a resource and guide. If we can be helpful in any way, please don’t hesitate to reach out. As always, we offer professional opinions of the market value of businesses at no cost to our potential clients and keep all conversations in the strictest of confidence.

If you have questions relating to the content of this article or the process associated with becoming an accredited Woman Owned Business, Sally Bergesen would welcome the opportunity to talk with you.  Ms. Bergesen can be reached at (425) 454-3052 or sally@ibainc.com.

IBA, the Pacific Northwest’s premier business brokerage firm since 1975, is available as an information resource to the media, business brokerage, mergers & acquisitions, real estate, accounting, legal, and financial planning communities on subjects relevant to the purchase & sale of privately held companies and family-owned businesses.  IBA is recognized as one of the best business brokerage firms in the nation based on its long track record of successfully negotiating “win-win” business sale transactions in environments of full disclosure employing “best practices”.