Excerpted from 2013 OPEN for Government Contracts Survey: Trends Among Women-owned Businesses

"Women Biz Owners are Benefiting from Government Contracting Certifications"In two short years, the Small Business Administration’s signature program to boost women contracting is enabling women business owners to stand out from the competition and access more contracting opportunities than ever before.  A new survey by American Express OPEN reveals that two-thirds of women-owned firms (67%) find the women-owned small business (WOSB) certification useful in seeking contracting opportunities. This is up dramatically from 37% who found the certification useful two years ago.

American Express OPEN is the only company to commission a comprehensive report on the small business government contracting landscape.  Now in its third year, the report provides an in-depth view of women-owned small business federal contractors.


• Active women-owned small business contractors are every bit as accomplished in terms of firm revenue and employment as are their male colleagues. And, although they have been active in federal procurement for a shorter period of time, they are nearly as successful in terms of lifetime contract achievement. One reason why women-owned firms are not far behind their male counterparts with respect to the value of all of their collective federal contracts, despite being active in the marketplace for a shorter period of time, may well be due to the fact that it took women-owned firms less time to notch their first federal contract win. On average, it takes a small business new to the federal procurement marketplace about two years (24 months) and 4.7 unsuccessful bids before winning that all-important first contract. It took women business owners 20 months and 4.3 unsuccessful bids to land their first contract, while it took men 25 months and 5.0 unsuccessful bids before notching their first procurement victory.

• The average investment made by small businesses in seeking federal contracts has risen dramatically over the past three years, with a greater than average increase seen among women-owned firms (up 59% compared to a 49% increase among all small contractors). And, while women invest less time and money seeking federal contracts, their prime and sub-contracting bidding activity and success rates match the average for all active small firm contractors.

• The WOSB Procurement Program is starting to have an impact. Two years ago, just over one-third (37%) of women business owners who had self-certified as a woman-owned small business (WOSB) found that designation to be useful in seeking contracting opportunities. Now, as of 2013, a 67% majority of WOSBs find the designation useful, including 28% who find it very or extremely useful.

Additional  findings from the report include:

  • Women contractors are more likely to have a special procurement designation or certification for their business:  The most likely certification that women-owned businesses have is getting on the GSA Schedule – which 23% of women contractors have done.
  • Women contractors are still investing less than men contractors: In 2012, women-owned firms spent $112,112 pursuing federal contracts, compared to the $137,040 investment made by men-owned firms.
  • Female contractors are newer to the marketplace: On average, active small business contractors have been in the federal procurement marketplace for 9.2 years while female contractors have been pursuing contracts for an average of 8.2 years.

So, to return to the questions posed at the outset of this report – how are women-owned firms matching up against their male peers in terms of procurement activity and success, and has the WOSB procurement program begun to see an impact – we would answer:

o Women-owned businesses are standing toe-to-toe with their male-owned peers in terms of bidding activity, procurement success, and positive economic outcomes from federal contracting activity; and

o Yes, even though it is still early days with respect to the WOSB Procurement Program, it does appear to have turned a corner in terms of public perception among certified firms. It remains to be seen, though, whether the program can reap economic rewards for certified firms in terms of more, and larger, contracts. An analysis of the economic returns attributable to the program will be years in the making, but initial signs are positive.

To read the full report visit:  Womenable.com