In the years since the recession took hold, small businesses across the nation have struggled to access the financing they need to continue operating at peak levels while fueling expansion. The U.S. Small Business Administration and federal government stepped in to help independently owned companies survive with loan programs that administered funding when big banks wouldn’t lend. The SBA continues to offer special job opportunities to help women- and minority-owned small businesses secure steady lines of revenue.
To benefit from these government contracting programs, women- and minority-owned small businesses must first understand how they can benefit from the opportunities, determine whether they meet the size requirements and then register as Federal Contractors. According to U.S. Census Bureau data from 2007, there were 7.8 million women-owned and 5.8 million minority-owned small businesses in the United States. These enterprises brought in $1.2 trillion and $1 trillion, respectively, and employed 13.5 million Americans, collectively.
While the government program doesn’t offer these businesses grants, it does guarantee them opportunities to secure valuable and lucrative jobs. Every year, the SBA sets a goal for the federal government to grant 23 % of business opportunities to women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses, as well as those in certain economically disadvantaged areas, known as HUB zones. Additionally, the SBA breaks down specific goals regarding the amount of contacting dollars that should be reserved for various groups, allocating 5 percent to women-owned businesses and 5 percent to other disadvantaged groups. To qualify for these programs, small businesses must be able to prove that they are at least 50 percent owned and operated by a female or minority business owner and that their companies do not exceed the SBA’s size requirements. To determine if they meet these standards, companies can look to the North American Classification System Codes to find industry-specific employment and revenue caps. In many cases, small businesses can employ up to 500 employees and bring in up to $10 million annually.
After owners are certain they fall under the specified criteria, they can apply to become federal contractors. This requires them to obtain a D-U-N-S® (Data Universal Numbering System) number from Dun & Bradstreet. The nine-digit identification number represents each business location when applying for grant opportunities. Next, owners will need to register with the System of Award Management (SAM), a database of businesses that are candidates for federal contracts. Some companies will also be asked to furnish past performance evaluations if they want to participate in the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Schedule. Small business owners can learn more about capital for women- and minority-owned businesses through the Access to Capital: Money to Mainstreet Tour!