What is WBE Certification?
Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification is a prestigious designation awarded to businesses that are majority (at least 51%) owned, controlled, and operated by women. Recognizing the unique challenges faced by women entrepreneurs in a traditionally male-dominated corporate world, the WBE Certification aims to level the playing field and provide them with ample opportunities to thrive.
The History of the WBE Certification
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) was established in 1997 with the aim of creating a national standard for the certification of women-owned businesses. Over the years, WBENC has grown to be the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States. It has also become a prominent advocate for women-owned businesses within corporate and government supply chains. In 2022, the organization celebrated its 25th anniversary, marking a quarter-century of promoting women’s entrepreneurship through certification, education, leadership, and networking via its extensive network of Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) and corporate members and advocates. WBENC serves as the leading third-party certifier of WBEs for the private sector in the nation, making it a pivotal entity in advancing the interests of women entrepreneurs.
Why Get Certified?
- Access to New Opportunities: Many corporations, as well as federal and state entities, have supplier diversity programs aiming to work with a diverse supplier base, including women-owned businesses. Being WBE-certified can make your business more attractive for these opportunities.
- Networking and Training: Certified WBEs gain access to networking events, training programs, and other resources provided by certification bodies, giving them an edge in business growth and operations.
- Increased Visibility: A WBE certification badge can be a notable credential, showcasing your commitment to diversity and drawing attention from potential partners and clients who prioritize inclusivity.
- Tax Incentives: Both federal and state governments offer various tax breaks and incentives for businesses that collaborate with certified WBEs, encouraging further collaboration and mutual growth.
How to Get Certified
The WBE certification process is thorough, ensuring that only genuine women-led businesses benefit.
- Business must be at least 51% owned and controlled by women.
- The woman owner(s) must be a U.S. Citizen or legal resident.
- The woman owner must hold the highest officer position (either President or CEO) in the company.
- She must have held this position for at least 6 months prior to applying.
- The woman owner must be actively involved in day-to-day management and operations of the business.
- Documentation: Prepare all necessary documents, including business licenses, financial statements, and proof of ownership.
- Application: Complete the application process through the certifying body, providing all requested documentation.
- Site Visit: A representative from the certifying agency may visit the business to verify the information provided.
- Review and Decision: The certifying body will review the application and documentation, followed by a decision. If approved, the certification is generally valid for a year, after which it must be renewed.