The WBENC certification for women-owned businesses is one of the most widely recognized and respected certifications in the nation. Accepted by hundreds of corporations within the country and a number of federal, state, and local government agencies, WBENC certification is an important marketing tool for expanding a company’s visibility among decision makers in corporate supply chain diversity and procurement organizations.  
  • What is WBENC and how does it differ from my local/regional affiliate?
  • How does WBENC certification differ from others?
  • What is a WBE?
  • What exactly does it mean to be
  • Are there size or length-of-time in business requirements for certifiable companies?
  • What is the fee for certification?
  • Is the fee reimbursed if I am not certified?
  • What is the processing time for certification?
  • What is the certification process?
  • Why do I have to supply my company's financial information?
  • What if I don't have a document that is required?
  • What if my bank won't give me a copy of my signature card?
  • What documents are considered as acceptable proof of gender and citizenship?
  • What documents are considered as acceptable proof of gender and citizenship?
  • I am the only owner. Why do I need to have an annual meeting?
  • Who will see the paperwork and documents I submit?
  • Who sits on the Certification Review Committees?
  • How long is a company's certification valid?
  • How do I download my company's certificate?
  • How do I re-certify my business and will my company have to re-submit all of the same documentation?
  • Is re-certification automatic?
  • My company applied for re-certification early - will the expiration date change?
  • Is there an on-site visit? Do I have to pay for that?
  • Can a woman and a man own the company jointly?
  • Is my certification transferable if I sell my business to another woman?
  • Who do I call to check the status of my certification?
  • How am I assured of the confidentiality of my documents once I send them?
  • What is the difference between WBENC certification and my state's certification?
  • I submitted my application by mistake, what do I do?
  • I did not submit my application within the 90 days allowed, what do I do?
 
The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council, commonly referred to as WBENC, is the leading authority on and certifying organization for women’s business enterprises (WBEs) in the U.S. and U.S. territories. One of the most widely recognized and accepted certifications in the nation; WBENC’s certification is accepted by hundreds of U.S. corporations, as well as select federal, state and local government agencies. WBENC is headquartered in Washington, DC with 14 Regional Partner Organizations (RPOs) throughout the U.S.  Each RPO processes certification applications on behalf of WBENC and adheres to WBENC’s stringent Standards and Procedures to maintain the integrity of WBENC’s Certification Program.
 
WBENC is the nation’s leading third-party certifier of women’s business enterprises (WBEs) for the private sector. WBENC provides a national standard of certification to women owned businesses through its 14 RPOs and provides purchasing managers with access to over 9,000 WBENC certified WBEs through WBENCLink, WBENC’s online database profiling WBENC certified WBEs, and MatchMaker365.
 
A Women’s Business Enterprise, commonly referred to as a WBE, is an independent business concern that is at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens or Legal Resident Aliens; whose business formation and principal place of business are in the U.S. or its territories; and whose management and daily operation is controlled by  a woman with industry expertise.  NOTE: A WBE is the business, not the individual.
 
A WBENC certified WBE is a business concern, which has gone through a rigorous and stringent certification process to confirm the business is owned, managed, and controlled by a woman or women. WBENC certified WBEs use their certification credentials to gain access to WBENC Corporate Members, as well as a number of federal, state, and local government agencies. In addition, WBENC certified WBEs also gain access to over 9,000 other WBENC certified WBEs in order to conduct business, partner on joint venture opportunities, and to network. NOTE: The business is certified, not the individual.
 
No. There are no size or length-of-time in business requirements to apply for or obtain WBENC certification.
 
Fees are determined by each RPO based on the specific markets served. Please contact the appropriate RPO directly to determine applicable fees. Simply visit www.wbenc.org, click on the Certification tab, click on Regional Partner Organizations in the drop down box, then select your state from the Regional Map to identify the correct RPO for your region/state.
 
No. Once documents have been received, the fee is non-refundable. The “non-refundable policy” applies to applications that are accepted and/or denied, as well as applications that were not completed or withdrawn prior to final determination.
 
The processing time is generally 90 days from the date all documentation has been received by the RPO.
 
A brief summary of certification process is as follows:
  • A business entity submits an application, along with the necessary supporting documentation, notarized sworn affidavit and non-refundable processing fee.
  • Each RPO has a trained Certification Review Committee that meets on a monthly basis. Once the applicant’s file is complete (meaning all documentation pertinent to the business and legal structure has been received), the application packet is reviewed by the Certification Review Committee.
  • An on-site visit is conducted at a pre-determined time with the majority woman business owner.
  • At a subsequent Certification Review Committee meeting, following the site visit, a final determination is made regarding the applicant’s eligibility.
  • If certification is granted, the company’s owner and assigned contact will receive an automated-e-mail notification telling them that they have been certified and may now access their certificate online.
  • A formal letter is mailed to the owner if certification is denied.
 
Financial documents, such as the Profit & Loss Statement, provide evidence that the applicant is conducting the business as described in the application. Documents such as the Balance Sheet and tax returns are used collectively to verify the ownership, management, and control by the women owners. Please note that the certification process does not evaluate the company’s profitability or financial viability.
 
Please submit a letter, along with the other required documentation, stating which documents do not apply and why. NOTE: There is a difference between a document that does not apply and a document that has not been created. If it can be created, it should be.
 
In place of the bank signature card, a letter may be sent from your bank officer on the bank’s letterhead informing WBENC and the RPO of the authorized signatures on the bank account(s) and any stipulations placed on the account(s), e.g., two signatures required on all checks.
 
Acceptable documents include a birth certificate or passport.
 
Acceptable documents include a birth certificate or passport.
 
According to most by-laws, the shareholders of record are required to meet annually in order to be in compliance with their own by-laws. If you do not hold an actual meeting, it is to your benefit to have something on file that states you waived the annual meeting.
 
All of the RPOs have Certification Review Committees who have been trained in WBENC’s Standards & Procedures. Upon signing a Confidentiality Agreement, Committee members review the information and make recommendations regarding the certifiably of each applicant.
 
The trained Certification Review Committees consists of Corporate and WBE volunteers. These volunteers have been trained in WBENC’s Standards & Procedures. Committee member names are not disclosed to the public, and they are required to excuse themselves if they have knowledge of a given applicant, whether as a supplier, customer, or competitor.applicant.
 
The certification lasts for one year from the date of issue. WBEs that wish to remain certified must recertify each year. However, WBEs are encouraged to begin the recertification process 90 days prior to the expiration date.
 
Go onto WBENCLink.org and login to your profile. Then select WBE from the menu box at the left. In the sub-menus, select from high resolution “HR” or low resolution “LR” certificate versions. The HR certificate works best for printed copies, and the LR certificate works best for uploading to corporate vendor registration sites and for e-mail purposes. NOTE: A company must have a current status of Certified in order to print a certificate.
 
The re-certification process is much simpler, and all the initial documents are not required. However, WBENC requests updated financial information, board meeting minutes, if applicable, and any supporting documents to support changes that may have occurred in either ownership or management of the business.
 
No. Re-certification is not automatic. The owner is sent a courtesy reminder 90 days prior to the expiration date of the company’s certification. However, WBENC does not guarantee receipt of the reminder e-mail and recommends the WBE marks its calendar as a reminder to begin the process 90 days prior to its expiration date.
 
No, the certification is valid for a period of one year. It is not a rolling 12 months.
 
Yes, an on-site visit is mandatory with each initial application and must be performed every three years thereafter as part of the recertification process (or more frequently at the Certification Review Committee’s discretion). The applicant does not pay for any of the site visits. NOTE: All site visits are scheduled with the owner in advance.
 
Yes, a woman and a man can own the company jointly; however, the woman must be the majority owner (at least 51% ownership) and must demonstrate that her management and control of the company, her contribution of capital and/or expertise, and her assumption of all profits and risks are commensurate with her ownership percentage. A woman must also hold the highest office as outlined in the company’s documentation.
 
No, certification is not transferable. Certification is granted solely to the owner that applies for and successful completes the full certification process.
 
The owner and the person listed as the Company contact will receive automated e-mails informing them when each step of the process has been completed. If additional information is needed, please contact the Regional Partner Organization to where you mailed your documents.
 
All submitted documents are treated with the utmost confidentiality. In addition, all files are kept under lock and key. Only RPO staff members have access to these files. During the Certification Review Committee meetings, the file is reviewed by the Committee. Any Committee members in a competitive industry do not have access to the file, nor are they present during any discussion of your application. Additionally, staff and Committee members sign Confidentiality Disclosure statements agreeing to keep all information confidential and proprietary with the understanding that any disclosure could cause harm to the applicant. The RPOs take your privacy and the confidentiality of your information very seriously.
 
A state certification, in most cases, is only good for doing business with that state’s government agencies. WBENC certification is primarily for companies that are targeting major corporations; however, WBENC certification is also recognized by some federal and local governments.
   
Register as a new user. The system purges all files that have exceeded their expiration date by 92 days, a recertification application, and/or supporting documents have not been submitted. If you experience difficulty, please contact support@wbenc.org.