Kiki Ramsey presenting a motivational speech to prospective small business owners. (Photo by Len Johnson)

This week, an executive coach and motivational speaker seeks advice from the D.C. chapter of the entrepreneur education organization SCORE on getting certified for federal contracts.– Dan Beyers

The entrepreneur:

Kiki Ramsey’s passion for helping women succeed began with her mother. Her mom was an amazing cook. People would line up outside the small store where she worked to get a home-cooked meal before all the food ran out. Ramsey’s mother always talked about opening up her own southern food restaurant, but she had a problem. She was addicted to crack cocaine.

Ramsey hoped to help her mother get off the drugs and into recovery, and despite her own challenges of becoming a teenaged mother at the age of 17, she found a way to go to college and study human behavior. Unfortunately, Ramsey’s mother passed away from pancreatic cancer before she ever got a chance to open the restaurant. But her plight prompted Ramsey to dedicate herself to helping as many other women entrepreneurs and leaders succeed as she possibly could. So in 2009, Ramsey opened the doors of Kiki Ramsey International.

The opportunity:

Many women juggle demands between their personal and professional life all while trying to get ahead. Some worry they are not living up to their full potential. Ramsey works individually with clients to assist them in reaching their goals, and she also provides motivational speeches, training and executive coaching to help companies utilize the strength of their leaders and get ahead in their industry.

The challenge:

Over the years, Ramsey has worked closely with many organizations and companies. Although she provided services to several federal government agencies, she knew getting certified as a Woman-Owned Small Business would help her chances of getting even more federal business. However, she thought she had to pay a third-party company to provide the certification.

The advice:

“Many women-owned business owners, like Kiki, are not aware of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA’s) self-certification process for Federal contracting,” said Karen Williams, a mentor with the greater Washington chapter to the entrepreneurship group SCORE. “When the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act ended the self-certification, the SBA acknowledged this elimination then implemented two ways for women business owners to demonstrate eligibility for the federal [Women-owened Small Business Program]: 1) Self-Certification and 2) Third-party Certification. The free self-certification process is the path I recommended for Kiki. The benefit for Kiki and many of my clients interested in the federal marketplace is that it is free and relatively simple…To start the process, I encouraged Kiki to first view the February 2016 SCORE webinar on the Women-Owner Small Business Certification  process ( I then sat with Kiki while she answered a series of questions and then uploaded all her documents. Kiki’s certification was completed in less than one hour.”

The reaction:

“When Karen told me I could self-certify instead of paying a third-party, I was so excited and ready to go because as an entrepreneur, you are always looking for the best and most effective ways to use your funds and time, “Ramsey said. “I am now certified as a Woman-Owned Small Business and ready to do more business as a speaker, trainer and coach with the federal government.”

SCORE is a nonprofit association dedicated to entrepreneur education. Looking for some advice on a new business, or need help fixing an existing one? The Greater Washington D.C. Chapter provides confidential counseling and mentoring from more than 60 executives across the region. Request a mentor at