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Certification Facts

NAWRB Women-Owned Business Certification requires applicants to provide the following documentation to be eligible:
  • The business must be 51 percent or more women-owned, managed and operated
  • The women business owner(s) must be a U.S. citizen or legal resident alien
  • Technical expertise in the Housing Economy
A number of other certifications exist for women-owned businesses. Women business owners should match their choice of certification to those companies or entities which they seek to do business with. Three broad categories exist:

Third-party, industry-specific certification - NAWRB is the only such certifier of women-owned businesses in the housing economy. 

Third-party certification - The two largest third-party certifiers are the National Women Business Owners Corporation (NWBOC) and the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). These entities provide widely-recognized, third-party certifications for women-owned businesses, however, they do not specialize in the housing economy. 

Self-certification - To date, the federal government has allowed women-owned businesses to self-certify. This option has limited mechanisms to ensure that applicants are indeed women-owned businesses. The Women-Owned Small Business Program (WOSB) and the Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) administered by the Small Business Association (SBA) still qualify under the "self-certification" designation. There are approved third-party certifiers for this program available on This program is designed for women business owners pursing federal contracts; the SBA should be contacted directly for more information. The SBA also offers 8(a) Certification, which designates a business as small, using federal size guidelines. This certification is for any small business, not solely women-owned businesses. 

State and Local Certifications - Some states and other localities offer women-owned business certification. These certifications are most beneficial to businesses seeking contracts with applicable state and local government entities. For example, the state of California does not offer women-owned business set-asides in contracting opportunities, while the city of Los Angeles does. Business owners should first explore contracting opportunities and recognized set-asides at the state and local levels. 

Minority-, Veteran-, and Veteran Disabled- Certifications - Other designations exist for a wider group of historically disadvantaged business owners. Those certifications require much of the same criteria; for example, like women-owned certification, the disadvantaged business owner must have a controlling stake (51% or more ownership). The National Minority Supplier Diversity Council (NMSDC) provides a widely-recognized Minority-Owned Business certification, whereas veterans have a similar program to certify their businesses as well.

Before deciding on a particular certification, each business owner should ask herself two questions:

Which categories of certification are most representative of my business? Women-Owned? Small? Minority? Veteran? This will narrow down the options available by identifying the certification most applicable to your business. Many business owners have multiple certifications, such as an 8(a), women-owned business located in a HUBzone. 

Who am I seeking to do business with? The federal government? The state? Industry-specific targets?  Identifying those businesses or entitities which will be on the receiving end, or "user end" of your certification is a key component when deciding on which certification to pursue. 

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There are many avenues for women-owned business certification and NAWRB provides an industry-specific, third-party certification that, like all certifications, may or may not be accepted at private and public institutions. Due to the changing WOB certifications, our use of the word "certification" in any press releases or on this web-site should not be construed in any way as approved certification through any specific organization or entity. Due to the underlying similarity of many certification programs, NAWRB recognizes women-owned business certifications issued by other national, women-specific, third party certifiers. Those are NWBOC and WBENC specifically and a NAWRB member businesses must still satisfy the association's industry-specific requirements to be designated as a certified NAWRB Women-Owned Business.