SBA encourages small women-owned businesses to seek federal contracts – Newsday | Region & Cash

The US government is the world’s largest buyer of goods and services, yet women-owned companies are underrepresented when it comes to winning business.

To expand opportunities, the Small Business Administration recently announced a 70% increase in industries eligible to bid for federal contracts for the federal contract program for women-owned small businesses known as the WOSB program.

The number of industries has increased from 444 to 759, with new eligible categories including temporary employment services, home health care, electronic computer manufacturing and air transportation support.

“We’re trying to do everything we can to ensure more women-owned businesses have access to contract opportunities,” said Bibi Hidalgo, deputy administrator for public procurement and business development at the SBA.

Bibi Hidalgo, Assistant Administrator for Public Procurement and Business Development at SBA.
Credit: SBA

The federal government purchases about $560 billion worth of goods and services annually, with a goal to give 5% of federal contract dollars to small businesses owned by women each year. But that goal has only been met twice — in fiscal 2015 and 2019 — since the WOSB federal contract program was introduced in 2011, Hidalgo says.

In fiscal 2020 (the latest with available data), the federal government awarded $27.14 billion in contracts to women-owned businesses — hitting 4.85% of that 5% target. Of that, about $388.6 million went to women-owned businesses in New York, according to the SBA.

By expanding eligible industries, the agency hopes to create more competitive opportunities at the federal level, Hidalgo says, adding, “All we’re doing is figuring out how we’re going to get that 5 percent goal.”

Congress is asking the SBA to conduct a five-year study to identify industries where small businesses owned and controlled by women are underrepresented in the federal market. This recently commissioned study has resulted in the expansion of eligible industries. A list of industries identified by NAICS codes can be found at

Ree Wackett, senior advisor at Stony Brook University’s Small Business Development Center, believes the expansion will help more women-led businesses gain traction.

Ree Wackett, Senior Advisor at the Small Business Development Center...

Ree Wackett, Senior Advisor at Stony Brook University’s Small Business Development Center.
Photo credit: Stony Brook University

Where you can get advice

Based at Stony Brook University and Farmingdale State College, the SBDCs help small businesses understand government procurement, help them certify as a women-owned small business, and assist them in bidding for government contracts. To be eligible for the WOSB federal contract program, the company must be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens and have women direct day-to-day operations and also make long-term decisions, Wackett says .

There are third parties that can certify a company for a fee such as B. the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, but the SBA also allows you to obtain free certification from the agency at

Certification can provide a competitive advantage, says Teresa Ferraro, president of Ronkonkoma-based East/West Industries. Your company develops and manufactures aircraft seats and life support systems for the flight crew, is WOSB-certified and has been successfully competing at the federal level for decades.

“The SBA believes that diversity fuels innovation, opens doors and creates partnerships that boost the economy,” she says.

Some companies are getting their feet wet competing at the local level for county and city contracts, says Lauren Linakis, associate director of SBDC at Farmingdale State College.

Lauren Linakis, Associate Director of SBDC at Farmingdale State...

Lauren Linakis, Associate Principal of SBDC at Farmingdale State College.
Photo credit: SBDC

“When companies come to us, the federal government is usually the next level of government procurement,” she says.

looking for partners

When it comes to the federal level, she recommends smaller businesses develop relationships with other small businesses with complementary products and services so they can work on contracts together. Doing it alone can be a daunting process, and because these contracts can be large, teamwork can sometimes be required to complete all aspects of the contract, she says.

Linakis also recommends companies update their business plans to consider how government procurement fits into your overall business strategy. They should also register with if they want to see federal contact opportunities and become a federal government supplier, she says.

The procurement process can be confusing, so it pays to seek help and the SBDCs, Wackett says. They can help create a capability statement that outlines what the company sells and other important information, she says.

Procurement officials will usually ask about it, she says.

With the expansion of permitted industries, “it should further encourage women-owned companies to become certified,” Wackett says.

A previous version of this article had an incorrect number for New York State orders

Quick Fact:

More than 5,000 women-owned small businesses have been certified by the SBA to participate in the WOSB program.
Source: SBA

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