Did you know female entrepreneurs can gain a competitive edge as a certified woman-owned business? “We view certification as a catalyst for business growth and a key stepping stone for women in building a successful business,” said Pamela Prince-Eason, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council president and CEO. “It opens doors to new business opportunities and provides access to hundreds of potential corporate and government clients, as well as a network of thousands of fellow female entrepreneurs.” To be eligible for certification, the business must be at least 51% directly and unconditionally owned and controlled by one or more women. The designations related to the public sector also have a U.S. citizen requirement. Does It Make Sense for You? WBENC, the largest third-party certification organization in the U.S., recommends asking: \t“Does your business have the capacity to provide quality service and/or products on large contracts?” \t“Are you willing to share the details of your business including capital investment, tax returns and compensation records?” Valarie Moody, president of Fodeo, credits her WBENC-certification for helping her develop high-level contacts to quickly grow her business. “... working with companies such as Disney, CVS, Staples and others were simply dreams, but now those dreams are becoming tangible realities,” said Moody who business sells photo frames that also work as dry-erase boards. What Are the Different Certifications? For businesses seeking private-sector work, WBNEC, the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce (USWBCC) and the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) provide their own national certifications. The good news is these same three organizations can help entrepreneurs who are looking for public-sector clients or subcontracting for businesses with public sector contracts. They provide third-party certification as a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSBs). Local and regional governments also may have their own avenues for qualifying as a woman-owned business. What Does Certification Cost? Any business owner who seeks a woman-owned business designation will have to invest her time to make it happen. There’s considerable paperwork to gather and file. These organizations charge nonrefundable fees typically between $275 to $400 and require an annual fee to maintain certification. “We view certification as a catalyst for business growth and a key stepping stone for women in building a successful business,” said aid Pamela Prince-Eason, WBENC president and CEO. “It opens doors to new business opportunities and provides access to hundreds of potential corporate and government clients, as well as a network of thousands of fellow female entrepreneurs.” The good news is WBNEC, USWBCC and NWBOC offer a wealth of resources for members or certified businesses including a sizeable network, research and conferences.