1. What is WBENC?

The Women’s Business Entrepreneurial National Council (WBENC) is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, operated and controlled by women in the United States. WBENC, a national 501(c)(3) non-profit, partners with 14 Regional Partner Organizations, of which the Women’s Business Development Center (WBDC) is one, to provide Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certification to women-owned businesses throughout the country. WBE certification through the WBDC is one of the most widely recognized and respected certifications in the nation. Accepted by thousands of corporations within the country and a number of federal and government agencies, your WBE certification will be an important marketing tool for expanding your company’s visibility among decision makers in corporate supply chain diversity and procurement.

2. What is a WBE?

A WBE (Women’s Business Enterprise) is an independent business concern that is at least 51% owned, operated 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 US or its territories; and whose management and daily operation is controlled by one or more of the women owners.

3. How can I find out more about WBENC’s criteria?

Before starting the process, please be sure to read WBENC’s Standards and Procedures. Reading this document first will ensure that you are aware of all criteria.

4. What are the fees for certification and re-certification?

The fees for certification and re-certification are the same and based on a company’s revenues:

  • Gross annual revenues under $1 million (0 – $999,999): $350 (non-refundable)
  • Gross annual revenues of 1 million but under 5 million ($1,000,000 – $4, 999, 999): $500 (non-refundable)
  • Gross annual revenues of 5 million but under 10 million ($5,000,000 – $9,999,999): $750 (non-refundable)
  • Gross annual revenues of 10 million but under 50,000,000 ($10,000,000 – $49,999,999): $1,000 (non-refundable)
  • Gross annual revenues of 50 million and over ($50,000,000 and up): $1,250 (non-refundable)
  • The WBDC has established a scholarship fund thanks to the generosity of several of our larger WBEs. This fund will pay for one-half of the cost of the application fee for companies seeking to apply for the first time, with under $500,000 in revenue. For an application or if you have questions, please contact Karen Goldner, kgoldner@wbdc.org.

5. Who do I make checks payable to?

The Women’s Business Development Center,  8 S. Michigan Ave, 4th Floor, Chicago, IL 60603.

6. What is the Certification Process?

  1.  A business entity submits an application, along with the necessary supporting documentation, notarized sworn affidavit and non-refundable processing fee.
  2. 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.
  3. An on-site visit is conducted at a pre-determined time with the majority woman business owner.
  4. 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.

7. How long does the certification process take?

Up to 90 days from the date when the WBDC has all of the information and documents needed for review.

8. Can someone help me fill out the application?

Unfortunately, our certification team cannot help with the application process, however, once the file is received, someone in certification will work with you to make sure all of the required documents have been submitted and the file is complete. Additionally, WBDC offers a workshop entitled Is Certification Right for You?, where WBENC and local, state and federal certifications will be covered.  Please check the current Calendar of Events for upcoming workshop dates.  You can also submit questions via e-mail to certification@wbdc.org, or call (312) 853-3477, ext. 100 and ask to speak to a certification specialist.

9. How do I download my certificate?

Log onto www.wbenclink.org with your username and password. Once you’re signed in, download your WBE certificate via HR (high-resolution) or LR (low-resolution) under the “WBE” tab on the left-hand side.

10. How long does my certification last?

WBE Certification is awarded for one year and must be renewed on a yearly basis.

11. My password doesn’t work, what  do I do?

If you have the password from the old system, you need to update it. Click on the “Forgot password” link and follow the prompt. However, the email address you used for user name should remain the same.

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Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC)

Learn more about WBENC opportunities and certification

Regional Partner Organizations

A list of the 14 certifying partners throughout the United States

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