If you’re like most of the women business owners here at WHAT NOW WHAT NEXT, you probably spend the majority of your time searching for new customers, clients and sources of revenue. We get it. We do too. And we want to help you connect with new opportunities by shining a light on an extremely valuable and often overlooked market for your products and services.
Federal, state and local governments across the country are aiming to increase diversity and they’re eager to meet their purchasing needs by doing business with women-owned businesses like yours. In fact, they’re required to make sure that a percentage of their contracts are awarded to women-owned businesses! This is really good news for all of us.
Every year, the federal government awards more than $500 billion in contracts and allocates a percentage of those dollars to women entrepreneurs. Here in NYC, Mayor de Blasio has set a goal of awarding 30% of city contracts to minority and women-owned businesses by 2021, with $16 billion dollars being awarded by 2019!
While you don't have to be certified to bid on all these projects, becoming certified is an excellent way to help ensure that your company stands out from the crowd and is considered for these government projects. The certification process is time-consuming and involves lots of paperwork, but the rewards outweigh the effort, opening the door to new sources of revenue and new opportunities for your business.
We recently sat down with four women who have leadership roles in helping small business owners understand and navigate the certification process, so they can connect with the vast network of contracts set aside by federal, state and city governments and corporations too.
Our conversation on how to “Grow Your Business as a Certified Women-Owned Business” was hosted by the NYU Women’s Initiative and streamed on Facebook live. We took a deep-dive into demystifying the certification process overall, exploring best practices for tapping into and identifying opportunities aligned with your own expertise.
Our panelists, included:
Jennifer Jackson, Supervisory Economic Development Specialist, U.S. Small Business Administration & WOSB Certification Trainer
Ophelia Gabrino, Executive Director, Capacity Building and Corporate Partnerships, NYC Dep’t of Small Business Services
Rogina Coar-Smith, Executive Director, Vendor Services & PTAC, Division of Economic and Financial Opportunity, NYC Department of Small Business Services
Rebecca Rodriquez, Principal & Senior Consultant, EOS Strategies & member of the M/WBE Alliance.
This post is Part One in a two-part series on how women entrepreneurs can benefit from becoming certified and seeking government and corporate contracts for minority and women-owned businesses.
In Part Two we outline the key takeaways our expert panel shared for getting started.
Are you interested in learning more about the certification process? Would you like help with getting certified? Later this year we'll be launching an online course that takes you step-by-step through the process, with more expert advice and a cohort of other women business owners like you.
If you'd like to be notified when the course launches, subscribe to our email newsletter to receive updates as well as lots of other great resources for women entrepreneurs.
And in the meantime, please share your experience and questions in the comments below. We want to hear from you and learn more about the questions you have and where you'd like to get help growing your ventures.