One powerful avenue for standing out in today’s business world is by becoming WBENC-certified. The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is a leading certifying organization that champions women-owned businesses.
Let’s explore some of the advantages of obtaining WBENC certification and how it can transform your business.
What is WBENC?
WBENC stands for The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and provides certification to companies that can prove they are owned by women.
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is a prominent national non-profit organization, established in 1997 and headquartered in Washington, DC. Its inception was driven by a strong commitment to championing women-owned businesses and pioneering the prevailing standard for women-owned business certification across the United States. The WBENC certification enjoys universal recognition by companies and organizations with supplier diversity initiatives.
Consequently, WBENC stands as the foremost independent authority for certifying women-owned businesses in the United States. This certification is made possible through strategic collaborations with 14 esteemed partners distributed across the nation. These partners encompass regional WBENC offices and autonomous organizations that share in the mission of advancing women’s entrepreneurship by offering an array of programs, resources, educational opportunities, and networking platforms to women within their respective localities. Their support extends to women interested in:
- Initiating their own businesses.
- Expanding the reach and impact of their existing enterprises.
- Exploring opportunities for business growth on an international scale.
How to Qualify for WBENC Certification
In order to qualify for WBENC certification, certain criteria must be met:
- At least 51% of the company’s capital must be owned by a woman or women who are U.S. citizens.
- Women must hold key executive management positions within the organization.
- Women must also occupy leadership roles that grant them unrestricted control over daily operational decisions.
To attain this certification, you will need to undergo a rigorous vetting process. This process involves a comprehensive examination of your financial and business documents, as well as an “site visit” (either virtual or in-person) conducted by a member or members of the certification assessment team. Only after your business has successfully passed this thorough evaluation will you be granted WBENC certification, officially recognizing your company as a women-owned business.
Check out our Checklist Spreadsheet which will help you track and organize all of the moving parts of your WBENC application all in one place!
Access to New Markets and Clients
One of the most significant benefits of being WBENC-certified is the access it provides to new markets and clients. Many corporations and government agencies have supplier diversity programs in place, and they actively seek out women-owned businesses for procurement opportunities. WBENC certification opens doors to these lucrative contracts, helping you tap into a wide array of clients you may not have otherwise reached.
Increased Visibility by Getting WBENC Certification
WBENC certification comes with a seal of approval that signifies your commitment to diversity and inclusion. This stamp of approval can significantly boost your company’s visibility and credibility. Many corporations and organizations actively promote their partnerships with certified women-owned businesses, giving you a chance to showcase your products or services to a broader audience.
Networking and Collaboration Opportunities
Being part of the WBENC community provides ample networking and collaboration opportunities. You can connect with other women entrepreneurs, attend industry-specific events, and participate in mentorship programs. These connections can lead to strategic partnerships, collaborations, and invaluable insights to help your business grow.
Access to Resources and Education
WBENC offers an array of resources and educational programs designed to help certified businesses thrive. From training sessions to webinars and workshops, these resources can empower you with knowledge and skills to navigate the business landscape more effectively. Whether you’re looking to improve your marketing strategy or enhance your financial management, WBENC has resources tailored to your needs.
Differentiation in the Marketplace
In a crowded marketplace, standing out can be a challenge. WBENC certification provides a unique point of differentiation for your business. Many consumers, as well as corporate and government clients, actively seek out women-owned businesses as part of their commitment to diversity and inclusion. This recognition can help you gain a competitive edge and build a loyal customer base.
Access to Capital
Access to capital is crucial for business growth, and WBENC certification can help in this regard too. Some financial institutions and investors prioritize women-owned businesses, making it easier to secure loans or attract investment. Additionally, your certification can bolster your credibility when seeking funding from various sources.
Commitment to Diversity and Inclusion
Becoming WBENC certified is not just about gaining business advantages; it’s also a commitment to diversity and inclusion. By pursuing certification, you align your business with principles that promote equal opportunities for all. This commitment can resonate with employees, customers, and partners, fostering a positive corporate culture and reputation. In a world where diversity and inclusion are increasingly valued, WBENC certification offers a multitude of benefits for women-owned businesses.
From accessing new markets to building valuable connections and resources, the advantages of certification extend far beyond the immediate business benefits. By becoming WBENC certified, you not only position your business for growth but also contribute to a more inclusive and equitable business landscape. It’s a win-win for your business and society as a whole. So, if you’re a woman entrepreneur looking to take your business to new heights, consider the many advantages of becoming WBENC certified.
What is the difference between WBENC and WOSB Certification?
When applying for WBENC Certification, you also have the option to apply for the federal contracting certification, WOSB.
The main difference between WBENC (Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) certification and WOSB (Women-Owned Small Business) certification lies in the organizations that oversee and grant the certifications and the specific eligibility criteria they enforce.
- Certifying Body:
- WBENC: WBENC is a non-profit organization that certifies businesses as women-owned enterprises. It is a third-party certifier that evaluates and verifies that a business is at least 51% owned, controlled, and operated by women.
- WOSB: WOSB certification is administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) in the United States. The SBA is a federal government agency responsible for supporting and promoting small businesses, including women-owned small businesses.
- Eligibility Criteria:
- WBENC: To qualify for WBENC certification, a business must have at least 51% ownership by one or more women who are U.S. citizens and must meet specific leadership and control requirements by women in the organization.
- WOSB: To qualify for WOSB certification, a business must meet certain size standards, be at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens, and operate in industries where women-owned small businesses are underrepresented (WOSB) or substantially underrepresented (EDWOSB).
- Purpose and Benefits:
- WBENC: WBENC certification is often sought by businesses looking to gain recognition and access to opportunities through supplier diversity programs of corporations and organizations. It primarily focuses on promoting and supporting women-owned businesses in various industries.
- WOSB: WOSB certification is geared towards helping women-owned small businesses compete for federal contracts, especially in industries where women-owned businesses have historically been underrepresented. It allows these businesses to participate in federal government contracting programs set aside for WOSBs.
- WBENC: WBENC certification is widely recognized in the private sector and by corporations with supplier diversity programs. It can open doors to corporate contracts and partnerships.
- WOSB: WOSB certification is specifically tied to federal government contracting and grants eligibility for participation in the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting Program.
In summary, WBENC certification is more focused on private sector opportunities and supplier diversity initiatives, while WOSB certification is aimed at federal government contracting programs. Depending on a business’s goals and target markets, it may pursue one or both certifications to access various opportunities.
Are you interested in becoming WBENC Certified? We have a checklist spreadsheet that will help make the process smooth and manageable!