I started the process for certifying Opus as a Women-Owned business in Massachusetts two years ago. The first step was navigating the state’s website to find the documentation and requirements. Luckily, they start everybody off with a WBE (Women in Business Enterprise) training workshop. This was the first requirement and I took it in April, 2013.
Lessons in WBE certification
At the workshop, there must of been more than a hundred people, including some men. I learned why we should register, and how to get certified. I learned that vendors who win state contracts, are required to work in some capacity, with WBE certified businesses. I learned that a married man and woman, who own a business jointly, can not be certified as a women-owned business because the requirements are that 51% of the business be owned by one or more women. I learned that there was a ton of paperwork required and wondered if I’d ever really fill out all those forms.
That was perhaps not the right attitude. Because by the time I did fill out all the forms, I found out that my attendance at the WBE workshop was no longer valid; too far in the past for the application. So now I had to go to another one which I did in 2014. But that was okay, because some of the documents had changed and I had to redo forms anyway.
Patience and persistence!
A few months after submitting the application, the SDO, Supplier Diversity Office, which is part of the OSD, Operational Services Division did a site visit at our studio in Brighton. I appreciate that a real life inspection of the business can rule out any tomfoolery that might take place in the complex world of state certifications. I met the woman who actually led the workshops (now a minor celebrity in my eyes) and a new associate who interviewed us. This was the last step of the process and we were getting so close.
This week Julia showed me the official letter stating our certification as a women-owned business in Massachusetts. We are now, according to the state, a “Women in Business Enterprise.” We put it away in a safe spot and look forward to leveraging the certificate in marketing to the state and to those who work with the state.
It’s strange that it took 2 years to prove that Opus Design is women-owned, since we’re not only 100% women-owned, but also 100% women employed …Grrl power x 5. If you’ve won a state contract and need to include some certified companies, please give us a call!