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Women Business Enterprise Program (WBE)

Women Business Enterprise Program (WBE)

The state of Ohio’s Women-Owned Business Enterprise (WBE) program is designed to assist women-owned businesses in obtaining contracts for goods and services, construction, architecture, engineering, information technology, and professional services. The WBE program does not apply a procurement goal or set-aside target for state government contracts. The state of Ohio developed the program because it recognized the need to encourage, nurture, and support the growth of women-owned businesses to foster their development and increase the number of qualified competitors in the marketplace.

WBE Eligibility

The business must be owned and controlled by a woman who is a U.S. citizen and has an established residency in the state of Ohio or a reciprocal state (if certified pursuant to section 123.154(D) of the Revised Code).

In addition, the business must:

  • Have been in business for at least one year prior to applying.
  • Be at least 51 percent women-owned.

*Additional requirements apply.

Benefits of Certification

Certified WBE program participants are eligible for contract assistance, management, and technical assistance.

  • Reciprocal State Certification:
    • Ability to utilize Ohio WBE-certification to apply for certification with reciprocal states, doing business in those states as a WBE-certified business.
  • Eligibility for Open-Market Contracts:
    • Certified businesses are listed in a searchable database.
  • Management and Technical Assistance:
    • Access to Minority Business Assistance Centers and Procurement Technical Assistance Centers, which assist businesses with identifying federal, state, and local contracting and subcontracting opportunities.
    • Access to free accounting assistance, structuring internal accounting systems, auditing management records, business plan development, technical advisory services, marketing plans, and evaluation of company operations and management processes.
    • Access to business development organizations that facilitate training, strategic management, networking, and mentoring opportunities with major corporations.

Steps for WBE Certification

The applicant must complete a Unified Application through the Ohio Business Gateway and provide supporting documentation as required. Only complete applications, including all required supporting documentation, will be reviewed. Applications are subject to on-site review by state compliance officers. Upon application approval, the company receives its certification by email. Reviews take an average of 60 business days or less from the time a completed application is submitted.

For certain applications, however, a “fast track” system reduces application time to approximately five days. To qualify for “fast track” processing, the applicant must submit the application through one of the regional Minority Business Assistance Centers, which are operated by the Ohio Department of Development, and the applicant must have a pending contract award that requires certification or be a candidate for and in need of financing or bonding where certification is a requirement.