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Q and A About the Application Process

The questions and answers on this page provide extensive information about the NWBOC application costs, process, qualifications, and expectations.

What's all the buzz about the new SBA federal purchasing program specifically for women business owners?
As of July 2011, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has selected us to be a Third Party Certifier for the new Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program. The WOSB Federal Contract Program provides WOSBs and Economically Disadvantaged WOSBs (EDWOSBs) increased access to federal contracting opportunities. For the first time, the program allows contracting officers to set aside contracts specifically for women-owned companies operating in NAICS codes in which they are underrepresented and substantially underrepresented. Click here for the detailed information regarding this program.

What does it cost to apply for WBE, WOSB, EDWOSB, VBE, or VWBE Certification?
The application fee for obtaining WBE Certification is $400. The application fee for obtaining the SBA's WOSB and EDWOSB Certifications is also $400. The fee for applying for both at the same time is $700, which saves you $100 if applying separately. 

How long does the certification last?
It lasts one year before re-certification is necessary.

Is there an annual re-certification fee?
Yes, after the first year the fee is $200 for gross sales under $2,000,000 and $300 for gross sales over $2,000,000.

Is the re-certification paperwork as involved as the original certification application?
No, it is much easier. Unless there has been a significant change in your business, very little paperwork is required.

What are the criteria to apply for WBE, WOSB, or EDWOSB Certification?
All of the following are required:

  • Woman(en) must own and control at least 51.0% of the business
  • Woman owner must serve as President or CEO (if both positions exist)
  • Woman owner must be active in daily management
  • Woman owner must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • Woman owner must have the ownership and officer position for at least 6 months

What are the criteria to apply for VBE or VWBE Certification?
All of the following are required:

  • Veteran(s) must own and control at least 51.0% of the business
  • Veteran owner must serve as President or CEO (if both positions exist)
  • Veteran owner must be active in daily management
  • Veteran owner must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident
  • Veteran owner must have the ownership and officer position for at least 6 months

How is "ownership" established?
Ownership is established through the documents sent with your application. One of the following is required, depending on the legal organization of the applicant business:

  • 100% of the assets of a sole proprietorship
  • At least 51.0% of the equity interests in a partnership
  • At least 51.0% of each of the classes of voting stock and 51.0% of the aggregate of all stock outstanding
  • determined by the percentage that would be distributed to the woman if the corporation was liquidated
  • At least 51.0% of the membership interests in a limited liability company

How is "control of the business" established?
A woman / veteran has control of the business if she / he is the final decision maker for all aspects of the business -- financial, production, contracting, etc. -- or she may have delegated that authority to an employee manager or another partial owner. A primary indication that a woman actively participates in the management and has control of the business is that she meets one of the following criteria:

  • 100% of the control of a sole proprietorship
  • At least 51.0% of the control of a general partnership
  • A woman / veteran owner is the general partner (or the managing general partner if there is more than one general partner) of a limited partnership or limited liability partnership
  • A woman / veteran is the sole manager, able to appoint unconditionally the majority of managers of a manager-managed LLC or has 51.0% control of a member-managed LLC

How do I obtain the application?
If you meet the criteria listed in question #1 above, the next step is to fill out the application and provide the supporting materials. This can be done in one of two ways. The first option is to download the application (in pdf or Word format), print it out, fill it in, add required materials including application fee and send the completed application to NWBOC. The applications available online are for every type of business entity (sole proprietorship, S-corporation, etc.) The second option is to take advantage of our new Application Kit, which includes the application, a 3-ring binder with tabbed divider pages, and lots of helpful hints. Also, the Application Kit is specific to your type of business entity, which eliminates having to read through instructions or requirements that do not pertain to your business. (The required documentation is different for a sole proprietorship than for a corporation, for instance.) The Application Kit is a handy tool for gathering and submitting your application materials.

What can I expect in the application process?

  1. The applicant sends the completed application to NWBOC.
  2. NWBOC office checks to ensure that the application is complete with supporting documentation.
  3. The application is forwarded to one of our national Review Committees.
  4. If the committee has questions arising from the documentation in your application, NWBOC will contact you for clarification.
  5. A visit to your place of business will be arranged and conducted by one of our trained site visitors. Results of the site visit are sent to the Review Committee.
  6. The NWBOC Review Committee meets again to make final decision.
  7. The applicant is notified of the decision and if certified, a certification packet is sent. If the application has been denied certification, a letter is sent stating the reasons and stating the appeal process.
  8. You must renew your company's ertification annually. However, the process is a simple one after the initial certification.

Can you give me some tips for filling out the application?

  • Compile the information in order and organize in a notebook with dividers.
  • Check and recheck for completeness.
  • Make a copy for yourself and send original to NWBOC with confirmation receipt. You may send FedEx, UPS, USPS, DHL or any carrier of your choice.

To ease this process a bit, we have assembled an Application Kit for purchase that is specific to your type of business entity and includes the notebook, dividers, general information and specific details on material required to complete the application.

Is the re-certification paperwork as involved as the original certification application?
No, it is much easier. Unless there has been a significant change in your business, very little paperwork is required.

Who accepts the certification?
Hundreds of private sector companies and some government entities accept NWBOC's Certifications.

How long does the application review process take, once I've sent in the completed application?
The process takes 1-3 months.

My business is located in my home. Do I still require a site visit?
Yes, a site visit is a mandatory part of the process for each applicant.

Is the information about my company held in confidence?
Yes, absolutely. NWBOC staff, the Review Committee members, and the site visitors sign confidentiality agreements. In addition, the site visitors never take possession of the application at all. The application documents are only shared among those reviewing it, and afterwards applications are securely stored.

Is my company too large or too small?
NWBOC does not certify size, just that the company is woman-owned and controlled.

Does my company have to be profitable?
No, we are not certifying that the company is making money; only that it is woman-owned and controlled.

Can more than one woman / veteran own the company?
Yes, one or more women can own the company as long as they collectively own more than 51.0% and meet the requirements in questions #1-3 above.

Is this certification regional?
NWBOC's certification is national.

Why must I provide so much confidential information?
In order to ensure that a woman has the majority ownership and control of a company, various types of information must be submitted and evaluated. Without thorough evaluation, Certification would be open to fraud or abuse by undeserving companies, which would result in a loss of trust in the entire certification system.

Why is there a site visit?
The site visit is mandatory to ensure that the company is woman or veteran owned and controlled. Often, the site visit is the most enlightening part of the application process providing answers that the application does not provide.

What is the NAICS Code and where do I find it?
This code(s) classifies your type of business and helps us locate procurement opportunities for you. You can obtain your code by visiting www.census.gov and clicking on the business/codes section.

Can I become certified if I am in the process of opening a business?
You should be in business 6-12 months before beginning the certification process. However, it is a good idea to begin collecting the required materials for the application as you move through start-up and your first year in business. Doing this will simply make the application process easier for you.

I own more than one company. Is one certification good for all of them?
WBE Certification certifies the woman business enterprise, not the woman owner. Ditto with veteran-owned companies. Therefore, each company must apply for certification separately.

Once I'm certified with NWBOC, then what?
Certification is a tool you use to develop new business opportunities, to help set your business apart in the marketplace, and to add credibility. However, having WBE Certification is not a guarantee that you will get new business without effort -- you still have to 'work it' just as you would any other sales and marketing effort! NWBOC helps you promote your business in several ways. Once you are certified through NWBOC, you are automatically listed or have access to the following promotional tools, all FREE:

  • Complimentary Platinum Level Vendor listing in NWBOC's interactive eProcurement MarketPlace (Value $300);
  • Complimentary listing in NWBOC's internal procurement database of WBE-certified companies, called The Zone
  • Procurement list of over 1,000 private and public sector purchasing contacts;
  • The NWBOC Quarterly Newsletter, in which your "good news" story can be highlighted;
  • The NWBOC logo and the Certification 'bug' designation so that you can add it to your marketing materials and website.