In the mid 1990s, a business plan developed by Nonprofit Management Corporation, headed by Susan Phillips Bari, was commissioned to create a women’s business certifying organization. After meetings between corporations, women’s organizations and businesses were held, WBENC (The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) was founded in 1997. With the assistance of multiple Fortune 500 companies and the United States Air Force, WBENC was established as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit with four regional partners, who began offering certification in Illinois, Ohio, Texas, and Louisiana. Since then WBENC has grown to include fourteen Regional Partner Organizations that certify women owned businesses throughout the United States.
WBENC’s stated mission is to advance “the success of Corporate Members, certified women’s business enterprises, and government entities in partnership with its Regional Partner Organizations (RPOs).” After four years of substantial growth and the creation of the Women’s Enterprise Leadership Forums in 1999, WBENC held its first national conference and trade fair in 2000. WBENC continued to facilitate business between certified WBEs and WBENC corporate sponsors and created strong WBE-to-WBE connections (through Regional Partner events and WBENC Link. In 2003, WBENC partnered with TUCK and IBM to offer its first Executive Management Program. In addition to this intensive training, WBENC also offers webinars throughout the year on various topics. Upcoming webinars include: The Ins and Outs of 8(a) Certification, Collections and Maintaining Cash Flow, and Make Your Capability Statement Stand Out. (Review the schedule.)
In 2008 WBENC commenced a Global Business Initiative with the purpose of mentoring organizations in other countries in developing their own certification process, as well as, assisting US-based certified WBEs in the global marketplace. WEConnect International includes WBENC, WEConnect Canada, WEConnect Europe, NASSCOM (in India), Quantum Leaps, the Women Presidents’ Organization, the World Bank Group, the International Trade Centre, and many international corporations.
To become certified by WBENC, a business must meet multiple criteria, including:
- A company must be at least fifty-one percent (51%) owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens or lawful permanent residents;
- The company’s daily management and operations must be controlled by one or more of the women owners.
WBENC performs a site visit to verify that all information provided by the business during the application process is accurate; assuring that a business is indeed owned and operated by an eligible woman or women.
WBENC’s next annual conference will be held June 21-23, 2011 in Las Vegas, NV.