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The Concept and History of WBE Certification

WBE Certification goes hand-in-hand with any procurement discussion. To ensure that the businesses claiming to be woman-owned in fact were woman-owned, a certification program was devised by the SBA. Having WBE certification the only way to confirm ownership and track utilization in both government and private purchasing forums.

Policy and Women Entrepreneurs
Certification is the tool by which WBO participation is tracked, and once the tracking provided hard evidence that the federal procurement dollars were virtually bypassing women-owned businesses, remedies were sought in the form of affirmative action programs. Attempts to level the playing field have been enacted over the years in the form of legislation, which began in the1960s with the Commission on the Status of Women, the Civil Rights Act. Three Presidents, Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon, signed executive orders in the 1960s to increase women and minority participation. In the 1970s women-owned businesses were added to the Economic Census, the Equal Credit Opportunity Act was passed and The President's Interagency Task Force on Women's Business Ownership was organized. The 1980s and 1990s brought 7 policy actions affecting small business, some with a focus on women, including the White House Conference and the Women's Business Ownership Act (HR5050) (NWBC, 2004).

Currently, the 5% federal goal was established in 2000 with the Women's Equity in Contracting Act that gave the contracting office the ability to restrict competition for women-owned firms, up to 5% of all contracts. The Small Business Administration confirms that it is possible for this to have the effect of being a set-aside, but is not expressly one. The intent of this program is to encourage procurement officers to utilize women-owned firms at a higher level in both the number of firms awarded contracts and the dollar amounts awarded to them.

Many large corporations now understand that it makes good business sense to spend dollars with women-owned vendor firms. Corporate management knows it is good for the public relations and for their local communities, but most importantly for the value they get from the dollars spent with women-owned companies.