First of all it is important to know the term of the WBENC. So the term WBENC means Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. For the women owned businesses in the United States, WBENC is a gold standard certification. In the United States, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council is a leading non-profit organization of the government.
The non-profit government organization is providing expanding opportunities for women entrepreneurs in the United States because it is considered to be one of the main purposes. WBENC promotes innovation, opens doors and creates partnerships among businesses. It is a great contribution of the government of the United States to fuel the economy. The WBENC organization not only provides certification but also provides useful tools that helps certified companies to compete in the federal market and obtain government contracts.
If you are a female business owner in the United States then you can consider to obtain the WBENC certification and get assistance from the WBENC organization to get support and make a remarkable position in the federal market of the United States.
In this blog, we are going to discuss about the WBENC certification. We will try to cover all the important aspects of the WBENC and its certification so that the readers can get an overall understanding of the subject matter. So let’s begin understanding.
Know about WBENC
The WBENC was established in the year 1997 to develop a nationwide standard for women-owned business certification. After the establishment, the government organization has become the largest third-party certifier of businesses that are owned, controlled and operated by female entrepreneurs in the United States. WBENC certifies businesses and also serves as a leading advocate for women-owned businesses in the federal market.
To provide world-class standard of certification to women-owned businesses in the whole United States, the WBENC partners with fourteen regional partner organizations. The purpose of the government organization is to fuel the economic growth of the United States. It is done by identifying, certifying and facilitating the development of businesses that are owned by the women of the United States.
WBENC operates to accomplish its mission by focusing on four core platforms and these are mentioned below:
Know about the WBENC certification precisely
You should know that in the United States the WBENC certification is considered the most widely recognized and respected national certification for the women-owned businesses in the country. Women-owned businesses gain access to a vast network of support by obtaining the WBENC certification. This type of support includes:
- Targeted business opportunities for the certified businesses.
- Increased visibility in government supply chains.
- Education and development programs to achieve growth and increase capacity.
- Networking and mentorship opportunities.
For the Women-Owned Small Business Program of the Small Business Administration, the WBENC organization is known as an approved third-party certifier.
Eligibility criteria to obtain the WBENC certification
You must have at least 51% of the ownership of your business in order to obtain the WBENC certification. It is because the businesses need to be owned, controlled and operated at least 51% by the female citizens of the United States. It means that one or many women should have restricted control of the business. The women or we can say female business owners need to manage day-to-day operations and make proportionate investment of capital. You will need to go through a thorough process of vetting to get your business the WBENC certification. The process of reviewing includes review of business documentation. Only after receiving the WBENC certification, women-owned businesses are designated as WBENC-certified Women Business Enterprise.
Understand the process of obtaining WBENC certification
You will need to determine if your business eligible or not before entering into the process of obtaining the WBENC certification. We have mentioned all the eligibility criteria in this blog. You just need to simply follow those criteria and fulfill all the requirements to qualify your business to apply for the WBENC certification.
Once you are done identifying the points to fulfill the requirements you will need to compile all the required documents. It is better to gather all the required documents in advance so that you can use it and be ready whenever you will need to submit. The important documents are mentioned below:
- Business information.
- Owner eligibility.
- Financial structure.
- Personnel and management information.
- Governance information.
In the next stage, you will need to head towards completing the online WBENC application process to obtain the WBENC certification. In this stage, applicants will need to register and complete an online application on WBENCLink2.0. Make sure to review your WBENC application before submitting it. It is mandatory to pay a processing fee which is non-refundable.
Your business will be reviewed before obtaining the WBENC certification. The review process is important because it checks check whether the businesses or applicants have met the criteria and standards of WBENC or not. Thorough review of all the submitted documents and a site visit interview with the female business owners are included in the review process. Your WBENC application will be processed by the Regional Partner Organization. It includes ensuring all the required documentation is complete, reviewing of application with a certification committee, and arranging a site visit with the female business owner. The review process will take 90 days from the date your WBENC application has been completed and submitted.
The certification determination stage is considered the last stage of the WBENC certification process. In this stage, your WBENC application will be reviewed by the Regional Partner Organization. If every portion of your WBENC application seems positive and correct then the RPO will notify you by sending you an email and letter.
After completing the time-consuming and complex process your business will receive the WBENC certification. Once your business gets the certification you will be able to get access to a wide range of opportunities and benefits in the federal market of the United States.
General Overview of the WBENC certification
Let’s understand what is WBENC and how does it differ from any local affiliate.
You have already got to know that WBENC stands for Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. It is the leading authority which is certifying organizations for Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) in the United States and its territories. The headquarter of the WBENC is located in the Washington D.C. with 14 Regional Partner Organization (RPOs) throughout the United States.
Each Regional Partner Organization (RPO) processes certifications applications on behalf of the WBENC to standards and procedures to maintain the integrity of the WBENC certification program.
The WBENC certification differs from other certifications. The WBENC provides a national standard of certification to women-owned businesses through its 14 Regional Partner Organizations. It also provides purchasing managers with access more than 18,000 WBENC- certified WBEs through WBENCLink2.0.
Often a Women’s Business Enterprise is commonly referred to as a WBE which is a women-owned business certified by WBENC. A WBE is a business or we can say an entity and not any individual. The WBENC-certified WBEs utilize the certification credentials to gain access to WBENC Corporate Members and other federal, state and local government agencies. A good thing about obtaining the WBENC certification is that there is no size and length-of-time in business requirements to apply and obtain WBENC certification.
Applicants need to pay a non-refundable processing fee for new applications and re-certifications. The amount of the processing fee is based on annual gross revenue which is divided into five tiers.
- Below $1 million - $350
- $1 million to $5 million - $500
- $5 million to $10 million - $750
- $10 million to $50 million - $1,000
- $50 million - $1,250
The fee is not refundable once the document have been received. The WBENC certification last for one year from the date of issue. WBEs that wish to remain WBENC-certified must recertify every year. The process of re-certification should begin at least 90 days before the expiration date to avoid lapse in certification.
To download the WBENC certification the your company have obtained follow the steps that are mentioned below:
- Log in to WBENCLink2.0.
- From the left menu, select the ‘view’ option and then select the ‘my certification’ option.
- In the current certification box, select the ‘view’ option to the certification that you would like to view.
- At the top of the page, select ‘view letters and certifications’ option and click the ‘view’ option next to the WBE certification.
Important points that you must know about obtaining WBENC certification
The processing time for certification is generally 90 days from the date the application is deemed complete by the Regional Partner Organization.
It is extremely important to submit all the necessary financial information of your company.
Financial documents such as the profit and loss statement. It provides evidence that the applicant is conducting the business as described in the WBENC application.
Financial documents such as the balance sheet and tax returns are used collectively to verify the ownership, management and control of the women owners. The certification process does not evaluate the profitability or financial viability of the company.
Submit your birth certificate or passport to show proof of gender and citizenship. The Regional Partner Organization have Certification Review Committees who are trained in WBENC Certification Standards & Procedures. The committee members review the information and make recommendations regarding the eligibility of every applicant.
A woman and a man can own the entity jointly but the woman has to be the majority owner with at least 51% ownership. The applicant or we can say the owner of the company will receive automated e-mails informing that each step of the process has been completed.
Important points that you must know about re-certification
The process of re-certification is much simpler than the process of obtaining the WBENC certification. All the initial documents are not needed for re-certification. The WBENC requests a renewed
- Sworn Affidavit
- WBENCLink.2.0 User Agreement
- Updated financial information
- Board meeting minutes (only if applicable)
- Other supporting documents to support that changes that may have occurred in either ownership or management of the business.
The process of re-certification is not automatic. 120 days before the expiration date of the company’s WBENC certification a reminder is sent to the owner. After every 12 months you will need to recertify.
Benefits of the WBENC certificationThere are numerous benefits that a company can get by obtaining the WBENC certification. Some of the most remarkable benefits are mentioned below:
- The certified-WBENC companies get access to supplier diversity and procurement executives at hundreds of major U.S. corporations, federal, state and local government entities that accept WBENC certification.
- Formal and informal opportunities to pursue business with corporate and government members and other WBENC-certified WBEs.
- The certified-companies get access to networking events and programs, procurement opportunities, executive education, mentoring, capacity development programs and other business resources and tools.
- The certified-companies becomes eligible for regional and national awards and recognition.
- The companies can use Women-Owned logo and Women’s Business Enterprise Seal as a marketing tool to promote your business and enhance visibility.
- The companies also get support of the community from other female business owners and like-minded professionals that are dedicated to business growth and success of women-owned businesses.
Now you know about the WBENC certification it is time to obtain the certification and gain competitive advantages in the federal market.