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What is the WBENC?
Founded in 1997, the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is a non-profit organization that calls itself "the nation's leading advocate of women-owned businesses as suppliers to America's corporations." As part of its commitment to helping women succeed in the marketplace, WBENC provides Women's Business Enterprise (WBE) certification designed to thoroughly vet applicant businesses and guarantee WBENC programs are being used to help only ventures that are truly woman-owned and operated. WBENC is the nation's largest third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by women offering both certification for access to corporate contracts as a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) and SBA-approved certification for access to government contracts as a Women Owned Small Business (WOSB).
Access to Corporations
WBENC works to promote women entrepreneurs' access to corporate contract opportunities by helping connect corporate purchasing officials with certified woman-owned businesses. WBE-certified businesses are included in WBENCLink, a database accessed by purchasing officials from hundreds of major corporations and government entities including airlines, pharmaceutical companies, food conglomerates, and national retail chains. These members have made a commitment to pursuing partnerships with woman- and minority-owned businesses.
Corporate members include:
Access to Government Contracts
The Small Business Act of 2010 includes a goal that 5% of all government contracts be awarded to small businesses that are majority owned and operated by women. WBENC is one of just a few federally approved Third Party Certifiers for Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) certification that meets the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) WOSB Federal Contracting Program requirements. The WOSB Federal Contract Program provides greater access to federal contracting opportunities for WOSBs and allows contracting officers, for the first time, to set aside specific contracts for certified WOSBs. WBENC’s WOSB site offers the latest information regarding the process for attaining this certification. Any WBENC-certified WBE can be evaluated for WOSB certification; and any woman owned-business that applies for WOSB certification also simultaneously receives WBENC certification.
Access to Networking
WBE certification doesn't just mean getting your company on a list. Certification also opens up access to educational and networking resources that aren't available to the general public. WBENC hosts a variety of events and programs for member businesses at the local and national level. These events range from conferences and awards ceremonies to management training programs and MatchMaker Meetings at which WBEs can get one-on-one face time with corporate purchasing officials.
WBENC maintains an extensive network of regional affiliates that participate in the certification process, and ensure on-the-ground networking opportunities all over the US. There are 14 partner organizations covering the country hosting hundreds of events annually.
Speaking to the Issues
Since it’s establishment in 1997, the organization has grown from a handful of corporations and just a few hundred WBEs to a corporate membership of hundreds and a database of more than 12,000 certified woman-owned businesses. WBENC also publishes white papers and research focused on issues relevant to woman-owned businesses. They survey their members on major business concerns and bring those issues to the table at important private- and public-sector forums.
WBENC’s resources are valuable for any woman entrepreneur, whether ready to get certified, or just looking for more information on key business issues. Membership with WBENC, alliance with regional partners, and connecting to major corporations and government agencies levels the playing field for women looking to get their companies into the supply chain of the major drivers of the American economy.