Are you a WBE? That’s a Women’s Business Enterprise, a certification recognized by thousands of U.S. corporations as well as numerous federal government agencies. To become a WBE, you first must qualify. Criteria include:
1. Be an independent business that is at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women;
2. The female owners must be U.S. citizens or Legal Resident Aliens;
3. The business must have been formed and be principally run in the U.S. (or U.S. territories);
4. The business management and daily operations must be controlled by one or more of the women owners.
Why would you want to be a certified WBE?
There are several benefits to becoming a WBE including marketing opportunities to major corporations and federal agencies you might not come into contact otherwise. WBEs get a certain amount of “preference” when companies and agencies look for bids on a project because they need to adhere to diversity guidelines.
The biggest 3rd-party WBE certifier is WBENC. They hold an annual conference where women business owners can meet representatives from major corporations, usually the supplier diversity executive. Regional - known as Women’s Business Organization Partners or WBOPs - provide certification through WBENC also hold business fairs and trade shows. These events can be valuable for marketing your business.
How do you get certified?
You can begin the process on WBENC’s Web site or contact one of their regional affiliates. The costcan range between $300-$500 per year (slightly higher in some regions). The actual registration process includes both online and offline (hard copy) submissions.
The registration process is rigorous and when the certification expires in a year, a company must recertify. Recertification is not automatic. While some states may offer certification, WBENC’s certification is national.
If you still aren’t sure if your company should become a certified WBE, you can take a quick online quiz on the WBENC web site.