What is the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and how does it differ from the Women’s Business Council – Southwest (WBCS)?
The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) sets and maintains the Standards and Procedures for WBE certification. The Women’s Business Council – Southwest (WBCS), one of fourteen Regional Partner Organizations (RPO) affiliated with WBENC, processes certification applications within the region and provides local support for women-owned business growth. Together, WBENC and WBCS provide the most widely recognized and respected third-party certification of women-owned businesses in the United States.
In what region does the WBCS certify?
WBCS certifies women-owned businesses in Arkansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and north central Texas. WBCS is headquartered in Arlington, Texas and operates a satellite office in Austin, Texas. When you begin your online application at WBENCLink.org, the system will automatically assign you to the RPO that represents the county where your headquarters is located.
What is a WBE?
A Women's Business Enterprise, WBE, is an independent business entity that is at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens or Legal Resident Aliens. Additionally, the business formation and principal place of business are in the U.S. or its territories, and the business management and daily operation is controlled by a woman or women with industry expertise.
How can I be certified a WBE?
Complete the application online and submit the required documentation. Applications cannot be faxed or emailed.
Are there size or length-of-time in business requirements for certifiable companies?
No, there are no size, revenue or length-of-time in business requirements to apply for or obtain WBENC certification.
What is the fee for certification?
Women’s Business Council – Southwest processing fees are based on the gross revenue amount submitted on the application. The amount entered as your annual gross revenue must match the revenue reported on the company’s federal tax return (if a company tax return exists).
- Revenue < $1M – $350
- Revenue $1M < $5M – $500
- Revenue $5M < $10M – $750
- Revenue $10M < $50M – $1,000
- Revenue $50M+ – $1,250
What is the processing time for certification?
The process takes approximately 60-90 days once the application and all documentation have been received by the WBCS office.
What is the certification process?
- A business entity submits an application, along with the necessary supporting documentation, notarized sworn affidavit and non-refundable processing fee.
- WBCS staff and trained Certification Review Committee meet on a monthly basis to review completed applications.
- An on-site visit is conducted at a pre-determined time with the majority woman business owner(s).
- 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 certified letter is mailed to the owner if certification is denied certification.
Why do I need to be certified?
Major corporations like PepsiCo, AT&T, Dell, BNSF Railway Company, ExxonMobil, IBM Corporation and American Airlines often mandate an official certification in order to fulfill a request for proposal. This mandate works toward achieving their internal supplier diversity goals. WBE certification is an important marketing tool for expanding a company's visibility among corporate decision makers.
How can I get corporations to do business with me?
WBE certification does not guarantee immediate business. WBCS hosts educational programs and networking events focused on procurement opportunities for over 1,000 members, as well as non-members. Through these events, WBCS provides WBEs with access to supplier diversity programs and procurement officers throughout the region. Every event, program and tool that WBCS provides WBEs has the purpose of increasing business done between WBCS members. People do business with people they know, so WBCS encourages its members to get involved in Council activities, committees, events and programs.
Why do I have to supply my company's financial information?
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.
What if I don't have a document that is required?
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. Your application packet will not be processed for certification review until all documents on the list are accounted for; please do not send a partial list of the documents required. If a required document is not included with your application packet, the Certification Department will contact you with a request for the outstanding document.
What documents are considered as acceptable proof of gender and citizenship?
Acceptable documents include a birth certificate or passport.
I am the only owner. Why do I need to have an annual meeting?
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.
Who sits on the Certification Review Committees?
The trained Certification Review Committees consists of WBE and Sustaining (Corporate) Member 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.
How long is a company's certification valid?
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.
How do I download my company's certificate?
Go onto WBENCLink.org and log in 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.
How do I recertify my business and will my company have to re-submit all of the same documentation?
The recertification 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.
Is recertification automatic?
No, recertification is not automatic. The owner is sent a courtesy reminder 120 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 at least 90 days prior to its expiration date.
What if my application is denied?
A denied application indicates the business does not meet the national requirements of being woman-owned. An appeals process is in place through which denied applicants can exercise their right to be heard in front of the WBCS Appeals Committee. An applicant has 30 days from the date of the receipt of the denial decision to file an appeal. Following a review by the Appeals Committee, a final decision is made. If the denial is upheld, applicants have a second remedy through the national WBENC appeal process. If a company has been denied certification, they may reapply for certification after a six month waiting period if your situation has changed sufficiently to warrant a re-evaluation.
Can a woman and a man own the company jointly?
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.
How am I assured of the confidentiality of my documents once I send them?
All submitted documents are treated with the utmost confidentiality. In addition, all files are kept under lock and key. Only WBCS 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.