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Woman Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) Third-Party Certification vs. Government Certification

WBE Certifications: Third-Party vs. Government

When looking at the Woman/Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification, the question asked most frequently is. “Is there really a difference between which WBE certification I receive?” The very honest answer to this question is yes. It makes a large impact which agency you choose to certify your business through. If your business is 51 percent owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or group of women then you are eligible for certification. There are generally four different levels of WBE certifications:

  1. Local – This certification can be obtained by a local government certifying offices, such as a city or a county.  You would want to obtain a local certification if you want to increase your chances of getting business from that particular local agency (such as the city or county in which your business is located).
  2. State – This certification can be obtained in most (not all states have a designated program) states through a state certifying office.  You would want to obtain a state certification if you want to increase your chances of getting business from one or more state government agencies.
  3. Federal – These are self-certifying, and allow you to sell to the U.S. federal government.  So if you want to sell to the federal government, then you can self-certify that you are a WBE enterprise.
  4. National – This is the type of certification you would consider if you want to have large corporations (both privately and publically owned) as clients.  Some large corporations will accept either a National Certification or a State Certification, so before you rush out and get a National Certification, you would first want to see what the requirements are specific to that corporation.

If you are more interested in doing work in the private sector, particularly with publicly traded and privately owned companies, WBE Certification by a third-party certifier is going to be the recommended option. Third-party certification (national agency) is geared to the private sector. Such agencies as the WBENC and the NWBOC are third-party certifiers. This indicates that these agencies are an independent entity other than the small business owner or the corporate purchasing entity and are ensuring that the small business is, in fact, a woman-owned entity.

If your small business is focused on gaining contracts with a government entity, in most cases each city, county, state and federal agency has their own type of certification program which details an individual and distinct process for that city, county, or state. Now you are probably saying to yourself, “Do I really need to get multiple certifications for different purposes?” Due to recent pressure being brought by women business groups the government agencies are now beginning to accept other sources of certification in addition to their own program. The key, if you find yourself in this situation is to certify with your home county or city first. By doing this most other city and county certification programs will reciprocate your home city certification.


Wanting to read more about small business certifications or how to fill them out, go to our prior blog to learn more about how we can help you achieve your goals.


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