Woman-owned business

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A woman-owned business is a specific designation used by American government agencies and industry associations to set aside special programs to encourage and empower female business owners. Most definitions of this term involve a practical look at the legal and ownership structure, as well as the issue of control of the day-to-day operations of a business. The consideration of control of a business is meant to discourage the practice of men placing wives, daughters, or low-level female employees in positions of ownership, when in fact she may have little to do with the day-to-day management of the company, for the sake of receiving some government benefits or other consideration.

A Woman-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) is defined as one that is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled on a daily basis by one or more female American citizens. WBEs are typically certified by a third-party, city, state or federal agency.[1] The Small Business Administration offers a similar definition of a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) as a small business that is at least 51% owned, operated and controlled on a daily basis by one or more (in combination) female American citizens.[2] The SBA's WOSB definition differentiates from the WBE definition, as it looks at the size of the business according to the specific industry standards table.[3]

Support for woman business owners[edit]

Research shows that in most countries there are significant challenges for women business owners in comparison to men business owners.[4][5] These challenges stem from many sources, including social and cultural stigmas, family and child-rearing responsibilities, maternity needs, educational background, career experience, and community support.[6] Depending on the country in which a woman resides and/or is a citizen, there may be government or non-profit support for female business owners.

There are several U.S. organizations that provide third-party women-owned certifications and support including: U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce,[7] The SHE Mark,[8] Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC),[9] California Public Utilities Commission[10][11] and National Women Business Owners Corporation.[12]

National initiatives to support the growth of women's business ownership include Prowess in the UK.[13] In India, supporting groups include WeConnect,[14] WEI,[15] and some specific bank-sponsored loan schemes.[16] In Europe, the Entrepreneurship 2020 Action Plan is aimed at supporting women business owners, among other initiatives.[17]

United States federal contracts[edit]

There are specific set-aside programs for certain NAICS codes in which certified WOSBs (or in some cases Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSB), a subcategory of WOSB) may receive special consideration in a U.S. government contract.[18] According to OpenSecrets, the Federal government of the United States gave $25.4 billion in federal contracts to women-owned businesses in 2017, this was 5 percent of the total budget in the fiscal year. This was up from 3.25 percent of contracts in fiscal year 2008.[19]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program". Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program.
  2. ^ "Small Business Administration". Small Business Administration. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  3. ^ "Small Business Administration". Small Business Administration. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  4. ^ Stockton, Gary (29 January 2018). "Statistics and Obstacles Facing Women Entrepreneurs". Small Business Matters. Experian.
  5. ^ Fernandes, Paula (August 27, 2018). "7 Challenges Faced by Female Entrepreneurs". www.businessnewsdaily.com. Business News Daily.
  6. ^ "The Global State of Women-Owned Small Business Enterprises". business.com. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  7. ^ "U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce". U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce.
  8. ^ Mark, The SHE (8 June 2021). "SHEowns". The SHE Mark: SHEowns. Certifying that 50+% of the people who own a company are women.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ "WBENC Women's Business Enterprise National Council - WBENC.org : WBENC". www.wbenc.org.
  10. ^ "IC System Renews Certification as a Women-Owned Business Enterprise". June 2018.
  11. ^ "Certification".
  12. ^ "Home". www.nwboc.org.
  13. ^ "Prowess - promoting women's enterprise support". www.prowess.org.u. Retrieved 2022-04-21.
  14. ^ "eMERG India". www.emergindia.org. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  15. ^ "Women Entrepreneurs India|Women Entrepreneurs|Support for Women Entrepreneurs|Women in Business". www.womenentrepreneursindia.com. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  16. ^ "9 Schemes For Women Entrepreneurs In India". News18. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  17. ^ "Female entrepreneurs - Growth - European Commission". Growth. 5 July 2016. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  18. ^ Kim, Amy. "SBA Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program" (PDF). US Office of Small Business Programs, Department of Defense. Retrieved 2018-09-04.
  19. ^ Janetsky, Megan (2018-04-13). "Women- and minority-owned businesses receive only a small fraction of federal contracts". OpenSecrets.org. OpenSecrets.