How to bid on contracts for minority and women-owned businesses

How to bid on contracts for minority and women-owned businesses

If the pandemic has shown us anything, it’s the importance of supporting disadvantaged groups in our society. It has been well documented that small businesses owned by women or minorities were disproportionately affected during COVID-19, despite being at the heart of our communities, essential to job creation and economic vitality. Ensuring that these businesses survive involves fundamental support at government level.

Check if you Qualify to be a GSA Contractor

Billions of dollars’ worth of contracts are awarded every year to supply the U.S. Government. Winning a federal contract can mean the difference between disadvantaged businesses thriving and being shut down, and with the pandemic entering its second year, never have these opportunities been more important.

To support and strengthen disadvantaged firms in the government marketplace, at least 10% of contracts annually should be awarded to Small Disadvantaged Businesses (a term including minority-owned and women-owned firms), and the U.S. Small Businesses Administration (SBA) has established several contracting programs to that effect. If you want to learn about assistance available for your firm and how to bid on government contracts, please keep reading.

Which businesses can benefit from the SBA’s assistance?

For your company to benefit from SBA’s programs, you must first qualify as a Small Disadvantaged Business. According to the SBA, this is possible if your business:

·         Is 51% owned or controlled by one or more people who are socially disadvantaged and economically disadvantaged – for example because of their race, ethnicity, gender, or disability.

·         Is considered ‘small’ according to SBA’s size standards (these depend on the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS) code that your business falls under).

To be certified as a Small Disadvantaged Business you should visit the SBA website and complete an application form. You may then be able to qualify for SBA’s assistance programs including the 8(a) Business Development Program and Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program.

8(a) Business Development Program

8(a) is a nine-year program that provides training, technical assistance and federal contracting preferences to minority-owned small businesses, so that they can compete more effectively in the government marketplace. Benefits of the program include:

·         Competitive and sole-source set-aside contracts (where competition is limited for certain government contracts).

·         One-on-one assistance from Business Opportunity Specialists for the duration of the nine-year program, including guidance on how to bid on government contracts.

·         Assistance from procurement and compliance experts in the sphere of business growth, finance, and government contracting.

·         Mentorship opportunities from established firms through the SBA Mentor-Protégé Program.

·         The chance to form joint ventures with established businesses.

·         Free training from SBA’s 7(j) Management and Technical Assistance Program.

·         Priority for receiving federal surplus property.

To qualify for this program, your firm must register as a Small Disadvantaged Business, have been in business for two years, have a personal net worth of no more than $750,000 (not including retirement funds), adjusted gross income of no more than $350,000, assets of $6m or less, and not have previously participated in the 8(a) Program.

Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program.

Formerly known as the 8(m) Women-Owned Business Program, this initiative aims to level the playing field for female business owners by limiting competition for certain contracts in industries where WOSB are underrepresented. Further contracting assistance is available for Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs). There are over 400 NAICS that qualify for women’s contracting assistance programs, ranging from Industrial Building Construction to Retail to Commercial Bakeries, and Dental Laboratories.

To be eligible for the WOSB Program, a business must:

·         Be ‘small’ according to SBA size standards.

·         Be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens.

·         Have day-to-day operations and long-term decisions managed by women.

To be eligible for the EDWOSB Program, a firm must fulfill all of the above criteria and also be owned or controlled by one or more woman with a personal net worth of no more than $750,000 (not including retirement funds), generate adjusted gross income of no more than $350,000 over the past 3 years, and own assets of $6m or less.

Where to find government contracts for bidding

If you are a Small Disadvantaged Business and are ready to find federal contracts to bid on, you would have several ways of doing this:

·         SAM.gov: here you can search for all available government contract opportunities, view previously-awarded bids for federal contracts, and find assistance listings.

·         SubNet: the Small Business Administration Subcontracting Network (SubNet) advertises subcontracting opportunities for small businesses, and is ideal for newcomers to the government marketplace.

·         GSA: GSA is the government’s primary procurement vehicle and awards five-year Multiple Award Schedules to established small businesses. The average small business earned $1m worth of GSA contract sales in the 2020 fiscal year, making this a seriously lucrative opportunity.

How to win a government contract

If you are a minority-owned or women-owned business and would like to win government contracts, Price Reporter can help. We have over a decade’s experience helping small businesses like yours to get on the GSA Schedule and can assist every step of the way – from assessing your competition and scoping out the government marketplace, to negotiating your contract terms with the GSA, and ensuring your compliance post-award. Contact us today to learn more.

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