Top 10 Benefits Available for Women-Owned Businesses in the U.S.

Samir Sampat

Women are becoming more and more of a force in the business world these days, opening their own companies, creating solopreneurships, and commandeering major firms and corporations to take their businesses to the next level. And why shouldn’t they? Today, there are plenty of perks available to encourage this trend and help keep women in the entrepreneurial spirit. 

To begin with, our own U.S. government promotes women in business time and time again, with special contracts and categories of work set aside specifically for women-owned businesses. To qualify, a business simply needs to have at least 51% ownership by a female, as well as female leadership roles. Here’s a glimpse at the exact requirements of the Small Business Association, a branch of the U.S. government:

  • Meet size standards for the business code and contract
  • Be 51% or more owned by U.S. citizens who are women
  • Have women in day-to-day management roles
  • Have women in positions to make long-term decisions
  • Have a female as the highest officer of the organization, working full-time during normal hours

In addition to being a WOSB, you could also qualify as an Economically Disadvantaged WSOB, which has the same requirements as above, along with:

  • A personal net worth less than $750,000 that excludes business ownership and your personal residence, as well as:
  • Income reinvested or spent on business taxes
  • IRA or retirement funds
  • Assets transferred in the first two years or on behalf of a specific family member
  • Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) of less than $350,000 averaged over the past three years
  • Fair market value of less than $6 million in assets

This can seem like a lot to keep up with, but when working with the SBA, they’re pretty good at helping you through the process. Before we dig into the details of the perks that will come when you start your business, let’s talk about why being a female in the business industry matters so much right now. 


Women in business: by the numbers


Before we dive into the benefits and perks available for female-owned businesses in the United States, let’s talk a little more about women in business. Not long ago, business was “a man’s world” and women were discouraged from joining, or even leaving the home to get a job or start a career. Today, however, women are some of the most powerful, successful people on the face of the planet, and rightfully so. 

Although it’s been a long, uphill fight, the resources available are helping more women make their mark in business. Check out some of the numbers related to the current state of the women-owned business sector. 

  • There are more than 12.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S. 
  • These companies generate more than $1.8 trillion each year
  • Women-owned companies make up 39% of all privately held organizations
  • Women-owned businesses employ more than 9 million people
  • 8% of the employment rate is due to women-owned businesses
  • Women-owned businesses account for 4.2% of all revenues
  • 40% of all businesses in the U.S. are owned by women 
  • 64% of the new businesses were started by women of color
  • Private tech companies that are ran by women have ROIs that are 35% higher than average
  • Women-owned businesses created half a million jobs in the 10-year period of 1997-2007
  • Women receive only 7% of all venture funds, which is why specialty programs are in high demand
  • 57.4% of the Microloan Program from the SBA goes to women-owned or women-led companies


As you can see, women are dominating the business world. However, there’s also still some inequality. For starters, that statistic about venture funds is a glimpse at the reality. Then, there’s the fact that while female entrepreneurs ask for as much as $35,000 less in financing compared to men, or that the loans they do get approved are funded at an average of $5,000 less than loans given to male business owners. 

So, it’s natural that women-owned businesses are seeking more support. It's also natural that there are a growing number of incentives and benefit programs that you can find to help assist you with building, starting, or expanding your women-owned business. 


The 10 best benefits for women-owned businesses


WOSB (Women-Owned Small Business) Federal Contracting Program


The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) has a program in place for women-owned businesses that are looking for business opportunities. Through their Federal Contracting program, as many as 5% of the contracts of all federal jobs are offered to minority-owned businesses only. Each contract has its own requirements and businesses will be required to bid on the contracts that they wish to engage with, but there are plenty of options. Plus, when you’re not competing with the masses, you get more opportunity to win contracts that you might not otherwise be privy to. 


AT&T Supplier Diversity Program


AT&T has given billions over the years to women-owned and minority-owned businesses. To date, they’ve actually spent more than $173 billion on businesses owned by women, minorities, disabled veterans, and LGBTQ+ community members. The company has all kinds of programs that each have their own application process and requirements to be met, but the women-owned business grants and funds are plentiful. 


UPS Supplier Diversity Program


UPS is one of the biggest corporations that focuses on diversity in business, and that includes an emphasis on women in business. They started a diversity program all the way back in 1992, which includes about $2.6 billion in annual spending on business that’s transacted with 6,000 or so small businesses that have diverse leadership, including female owners and leaders. The programs and funds available in this program vary and have their own requirements, but those interested can contact UPS for more information. 


Emerging Leaders Initiative


The Emerging Leaders Initiative is a program that is designed for all minorities, including women in business. This program is designed to provide resources for small businesses in underserved communities, including those run by women. Organizations that are just getting started or thinking about starting a business can apply for this program if they have at least one employee beyond themselves and have been in business for at least three years. You'll also need revenues of at least $250,000. You will get business training and one-on-one counseling that focuses on accessing capital, growing the business, government contracting, and more. While this program is open to all small business owners, women especially can benefit here. 


California Small Business Loan Guarantee Program (SBLGP)


In the state of California, there is a loan guarantee program that helps create and retain jobs by boosting investments in low-income communities. When women-owned businesses decide to set up shop in these communities, they can get guarantees on loans and funds that they might not find otherwise. The goal of the program is to help businesses like yours get the credit that they need and build a positive credit history so that they can eventually find financing outside of the program. 


Research and Development Tax Credit (New York Residents)


Women-owned businesses in New York state that have a research and development (R&D) facility will be able to get a corporate tax credit from this program. Credits of up to 9% (nine percent) are awarded to those who apply and are qualified. The funds are given to promote the expansion and creation of businesses focused on emerging technology. You'll also find capital credit for investments and a three-year credit for job creation that garners $1,000 per employee. 

New Markets Tax Credit


This tax credit is available to women-owned businesses that are working in underserved communities. The credit can vary significantly depending on the project and the details of the new market. A group that is responsible for rebuilding Detroit, known as Invest Detroit, has won more than $98 million in three different awards of this credit. Depending on how big your initiative is, you may be able to get a lot more credits than you think. 


Eileen Fisher Women-Owned Business Grant Program


The Eileen Fisher program offers annual grants to businesses that are majority-owned by women, led by women, and that are well-beyond the startup phase. Businesses that qualify include those that are focused on social and environmental change and have revenues of less than $1 million. The application instructions are found on the website and the award amounts vary, but anyone can apply for these funds. 


Huggies Brand Mom-Inspired Grants


The Huggies brand has been supporting female-led business initiatives for a long time. Their ongoing grant program awards as much as $15,000 to assist with developing innovative products that have been inspired by moms around the country. Winners will also be given resources to assist in the development of their products and a successful launch of their business. The Huggies brand is one of many baby brands empowering women and mothers to start and grow businesses or seek out other opportunities for success. 


Wal-Mart Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative


This program was founded in 2011 as Wal-Mart made a commitment to improve women-owned businesses and the lives of women in general. The $40 billion commitment offers market access, training, and career opportunities to women in business. It’s ideal for those who may want to sell to Wal-Mart or otherwise get into business with the brand. However, it’s also just a good way to get your hands on some grant money to help build and grow your business. Love the brand or hate it, Wal-Mart is doing its part to help women-owned businesses and that’s something that you should use to your benefit. 


Other resources for women in business


In addition to the resources and funds above, you’ll also find plenty of other ways to get assistance with your women-owned business endeavors in the U.S. and around the world. So long as you can maintain that WOSB or EDWOSB status, you’ll be able to find all kinds of resources. Here’s a few that didn’t make the list that you should look into, as well. 

  • Zions Bank Smart Women Smart Money Program
  • Idea Café Small Business Grant
  • FedEx Think Bigger Small Business Grants
  • Chase & Google’s Mission Main Street Project
  • Small Business Innovation Research
  • Small Business Technology Transfer Program
  • SBA Women’s Business Centers (100 locations around the country)


You can find plenty of resources to assist you in getting your business up and running, getting finances in order, and so much more. If you’re starting a women-owned business and you want to maximize your perks, make sure that you take advantage of all of the resources that you can. The items on this list are a great place to start, but they are also not nearly an exhaustive list of the resources and perks available to those women who own small businesses today. 

You can also find economic development agencies and small business development centers that can help you further your business endeavors or get more out of your investment in a small business, so be sure to take a look at those, as well. 

The bottom line? As a woman in business, you’ve got a lot of resources waiting for you. Take the time to explore them and find the ones that help your business thrive. 


And speaking of resources... 


While you’re busy setting up and planning your business, you won’t want to neglect your customers and the assistance that they may need. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about that when you enlist the help of the dedicated virtual receptionists at Smith.ai. Let us field the chats, phone calls, Facebook messages, and more, so that you can focus on getting your business funded, organized, and in a place where it can thrive. 

Plus, our team will even work with you to streamline your service strategy and come up with a solution to field every single message and call perfectly so that your business never misses a beat, even if you’re up to your ears in grant paperwork and other operational tasks. 

To learn more, schedule a consultation to discuss our 24/7 phone answering and live website chat services, and ask about our lead intake, appointment scheduling and payment collection, and so much more. You can also reach us at hello@smith.ai or (650) 727-6484.

Samir Sampat

Samir Sampat is a Marketing and Events Associate with Smith.ai. He has experience working with businesses of all sizes focusing on marketing, communications, and business development.

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