What is VOSB Certification?
The Veteran-Owned Small Business (VOSB) certification is a recognition given to businesses that are majority-owned and managed by U.S. military veterans. It’s a program by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to ensure that veterans are given an equitable opportunity to participate in federal contracts, emphasizing their unparalleled dedication and sacrifice for the country.
The History of the VOSB Certification
Over the years, the federal government has instituted several programs to aid veterans in their post-service life, especially in their transition to the civilian workforce. However, the need for a dedicated effort to support veteran entrepreneurs became apparent as more veterans sought to establish and grow their own businesses.
The federal commitment to veteran entrepreneurs was cemented in the late 20th century. The push for recognizing and prioritizing veteran-owned businesses in federal contracting began gaining momentum in the 1990s. However, it was in the early 2000s that formal legislation was put in place. The Veterans Benefits Act of 2003 played a pivotal role in establishing the VOSB certification program. This Act mandated that specific federal contracting goals be set aside for veteran-owned small businesses, underscoring the government’s dedication to ensuring that veterans received tangible economic opportunities in gratitude for their service.
In 2004, the Executive Order 13360 was issued, directing federal agencies to more aggressively include veteran-owned businesses in their procurement programs. This was not merely an economic decision but also a recognition of the unique skill set, discipline, and resilience that veterans bring to the business world, honed through their rigorous military training and experiences.
Why Get Certified?
- Priority Access to Federal Contracts: VOSB certified businesses have exclusive access to certain federal contracts. It ensures that a specific percentage of contracts are reserved for veteran-owned enterprises.
- Improved Business Visibility: Being VOSB certified can help businesses stand out in a crowded market, appealing to patriotic customers and those looking to support veteran initiatives.
- Access to Resources: VOSB certified firms can avail of specific mentorship programs, training, and business development resources tailored for veterans transitioning into the business world.
- State-Specific Benefits: Many states in the U.S. offer added incentives, tax breaks, and contracting opportunities for VOSB certified firms.
How to Get Certified
VOSB certification is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and requires businesses to meet specific criteria.
- Must be a small business as per SBA standards.
- At least 51% owned and operated by one or more veterans.
- The management and daily operations must be run by the veteran owner.
- The veteran owner must have served in the active military, naval, or air service and be honorably discharged or released.
- Gather Documentation: Prepare all necessary documentation, including military service records, business licenses, and financial statements.
- Submit Application: Apply through the VA’s Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization portal.
- Undergo Verification: The VA will review the application, which may include interviews and site visits to verify the veteran’s status and business control.
- Receive Certification: Once approved, businesses can start utilizing their VOSB certification for federal contracting opportunities.