SBA Wants to Increase Government Contracting Opportunities for Women-Owned Businesses
Black Enterprise Magazine January-March 2019 Issue

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The Small Business Association (SBA) has recently proposed increasing federal contracts for women-owned businesses. Antonio Doss, district director for the Washington Metropolitan Area District Office, U.S. Small Business Administration, sat down with Black Enterprise to share some more information about it.

[RELATED: SBA and ChallengeHER Partner for Women-Owned Small Businesses] Can you please explain the SBA’s current proposal?
Doss: As of now, the SBA has proposed that Women-Owned small businesses be given additional contracting authority to enable their growth in the $400 billion federal contracting marketplace. The Sole-Source provision will be implemented enabling eligible Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged WOSB (EDWOSB) firms an opportunity to receive sole-source awards from a federal agency. The SBA’s added authority for WOSBs is a result of the passage of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) 2015, which additionally provides for the sole-source authority and the establishment of a certification system. While the SBA continues its review of the certification legislation, the current policy of self-certification and the use of SBA authorized third-party certifiers will remain in place. Changes to the certification process will be communicated through proposed rules, which will be posted online at for public review and comment.

How will it assist women-owned businesses?
The sole-source authority enables a federal agency contracting officer to award a contract to an eligible WOSB or EDWOSB on a sole-source basis under certain circumstances. Among the factors that determine if an award can be made on a sole-source basis are the value of contract in relation to the threshold amount, which is $6.5 million or less for manufacturing or $4 million or less for all other contracts, and if there is only one WOSB or EDWOSB capable of performing the contract. This authority is similar to the existing sole-source authority for the Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) and Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Businesses (SDVOSB) programs.

How difficult is the certification process?
The self-certification process is not difficult at all. Eligible firms should follow the guidelines found at www.sba/gov/wosb to begin the process. Here, a WOSB or EDWOSB can identify the forms and documentation they will need to upload to the Program Repository for the self-certification process. The website provides step-by-step information to do this. If a firm would like to be certified by a Third-party, they can find the list of authorized third-party certifiers here as well.

Do you have local initiatives that support women-owned businesses?
The Washington Metropolitan Area District Office has an uncompromising approach toward inclusive entrepreneurialism. For us, this means assisting all segments of the entrepreneurial community to be able to start, grow, and sustain successful businesses. Women-owned small businesses are a key area of focus for us.

The SBA provides funding to three local Women’s Business Centers (WBC) in the metropolitan Washington Area. With locations in Springfield, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and Rockville, Maryland, each WBC provides a wide range of training workshops and in-depth entrepreneurial coaching to women business owners. The Maryland Women’s Business Center co-hosted its annual Power Conference on Thursday, Sept. 3 at the Montgomery County Conference Center/North Bethesda Marriott. More than 40 business education workshops were held along with a trade show, and the announcement of the annual StartRight! Business Plan Competition winners.

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As a trailblazer in the small business community for nearly a decade, Nicole Cober is an advocate for the small business community. For eight years, Ms. Cober owned and operated a day spa and hair salon chain that served as a revitalization catalyst in a developing area of the nation's capital. During that time, she received national media coverage regarding small business management and entrepreneurism in various publications such as People, Essence, Allure, Entrepreneur, The Washingtonian, The Washington Post, Upscale and Black Enterprise. Ms. Cober was also featured on the CBS Morning News, BET and the reality show, "Ambush Makeover." The salon and spa received recognition by the Washington City Paper as "The Best Stylist" and "Best Spa" and Ms. Cober's commitment to the community was on display annually when she used her business for philanthropy by provided complementary services to Rachael's Women's Shelter. Ms. Cober blends both her legal and business skills together to offer a uniquely powerful list of services for clients. Affectionately known as "The Lawyer-preneur," she now seeks to empower start-ups and local small businesses with by creating effective business, branding and growth strategies. Ms. Cober is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley as well as Howard University School of Law. She was a judicial law clerk for the Chief Judge of the DC Court of Appeals and worked for a number of years at Dickstein Shapiro as a litigation attorney, specializing in employment and insurance coverage law. Currently, she is a regular contributor to Black Enterprise and Citibank's Women and Co. as well as a legal consultant for NewsChannel 8 WJLA. Ms. Cober is also a public speaker, coach, a contributor to Pulse Magazine, a publication devoted to international spa management, and soon to be author who will publish a book later this year titled “CEO of My Soul”, which chronicles the do's and dont's of her early days as an entrepreneur. Follow her on twitter @CoberJohnson