What does it mean to be “a WBENC-certified WBE”?
WBENC (The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council) is the largest certifier of women owned businesses nation-wide, with hundreds of corporations and government agencies accepting the certificate as a pathway to their supplier diversity programs.
A WBENC certified WBE is a business that has gone through a rigorous and stringent certification process to confirm the business is owned, managed, and controlled by a woman or women.
How does the WBENC WBE certification differ from other certification programs?
Many organizations, states and government agencies will offer to certify you as a WBE, but you should know that this often is not transferrable to other organizations, states, or even corporations within that state. Before seeking any certification, research the supplier diversity program of your target clients to see what specific certificate they will accept. The WBENC WBE is the most widely accepted nation-wide.
If I get certified through WBEC-East, am I certified nationally?
Yes! Your certification application will be processed by your local territory, also called a RPO- WBENC Regional Partnership Organization. WBEC-East serves businesses headquartered in Pennsylvania, Delaware and Southern New Jersey. Regardless of which RPO processes your application, you are welcome to network and get involved in any territory that you do business, and if you ever move, we will simply transfer your active certification to your new local RPO.
What counties in New Jersey are included in your territory?
The counties included in WBEC-East’s territory are Atlantic, Burlington, Camden, Cape May, Cumberland, Gloucester, Ocean, and Salem. If you are located in the northern counties, you will be certified by the New York office, however you are welcome to participate in our networking and events too!
What is the difference between WBENC certification and my state’s certification?
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.
The following State and City Agencies in our region accept WBENC Certification in lieu of going through a separate process:
• City of Philadelphia Office of Economic Opportunity: https://oeo.phila.gov
• Commonwealth of Pennsylvania Bureau of Minority & Women Business Opportunities: https://www.dgs.state.pa.us
• State of Delaware Office of Minority and Women Business Enterprise: https://gss.omb.delaware.gov/omwbe/
Starting Your WBENC Application
How can I ensure I meet all of the eligiblity requirements?
Please read through the Standards and Procedures, starting on page 9, for eligibility by legal structure. The only way a business can be denied is if evidence is found that the business does not meet one or more of the eligibility clauses.
Are there size or length-of-time in business requirements for certifiable companies?
No. There are no size or length-of-time in business requirements to apply for or obtain WBENC certification. A business must be established and incorporated, however you are not required to have clients or revenue yet.
Can a woman and a man own the company jointly?
A woman and a man can own the company jointly; however, the woman (or women):
– Must be the majority owner (at least 51% ownership) as defined by the legal documents (operating agreement and/or aggregate stocks) and financial documents (tax returns)
– Must demonstrate that she has ultimate management and control of the company independent of the male co-owner
– Must demonstrate the expertise to run the business in the absence of any other male owner or manager
– Must hold the highest defined office as outlined in the bylaws or operating agreement (CEO, President, Managing Member, etc.)
What is the processing fee for certification?
The processing fee is based on annual gross revenue as reported on Federal Taxes and is divided into five (5) tiers. Please identify which range your company’s revenues fall within to identify the required fee.
This is an annual fee for new certification and recertification.
|Under 1 Million||$350|
|1 Million to 5 Million||$500|
|5 Million to 10 Million||$750|
|10 Million to 50 Million||$1,000|
|50 Million and above||$1,250|
Is the processing fee reimbursed if I am not certified?
No, once documents have been received, the fee is non-refundable. This fee does not guarantee certification, but guarantees a fair and timely review, as significant hours are spent reviewing each application.
What is the processing time for certification?
The entire certification process is about 3-4 months from the time that we receive your application, however this may depend on the complexity of your business and your response time to questions. Please take a look at the process section of the main certification page for a clear breakdown of what to expect.
Do you offer expedited processing?
No, all applications are reviewed in the order that they are received.
Check out this useful resource:
5 Tips to Help Speed Up Your Certification Process
Do you provide assistance in filling out the application? Should I hire a consultant?
No, we do not provide assistance in filling out the application as our role is to remain independent reviewers. However, we are happy to answer any questions you have about eligibility, what documents you need, and where you are in the process.
While your first year applying can be long and rigorous, the vast majority of business owners find they are able to complete the application easily on their own and do not need a consultant to assist. If you have questions or are experiencing difficulty, please reach out to us first as we are often able to answer all of your questions.
What is the Certification Committee?
The certification committee is a committee comprised of volunteers (corporate, government and business owner representatives) who render recommendations for certification or denial to the Executive Director/President. Committee review is a mandatory step for all new applicants and any recertifying applicants with major changes such as ownership percentage or key management. The committee meets every 2 weeks.
How do you define a company’s headquarters? Can this be a home office?
Your headquarters is the location where your business’s day-to-day operations are managed and where most working hours are spent. If the business is based out of a home office, this would be considered your headquarters. Home offices are not a barrier to certification.
What is an on-site visit and are all applicants required to have one?
A site visit is a visit to the applicant’s physical headquarters to meet with the female owner(s) totaling 51% or more and to verify that all information submitted is accurate. An on-site visit is performed:
– With each initial application
– Every three years thereafter as part of the recertification process
– At the discretion of the reviewing committee if major ownership or operational changes are reported or occasionally when a business is brand new after the first year of certification
All site visits are scheduled in advance and generally take no more than 1 hour.
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.
My business is less than 3 years old, what financial information should I supply?
For businesses less than three years old, you may substitute personal federal income tax returns for the years that you do not have company tax returns. You may redact any personal information such as your social security number and dependents’ names.
Check out this article on tricky documents for new businesses.
If paying by check, to whom do I make the check payable?
WBEC-East, 123 S.Broad Street, Suite 500, Philadelphia, PA 19109
Attn: Stephanie Reid
However, we recommend paying by credit card, and we will not start processing your application until payment is received.
What documents are considered as acceptable proof of gender and citizenship?
Acceptable documents for citizenship include a birth certificate, passport, naturalization papers, or Permanent Legal Resident Alien Card (green card). Proof of gender can be submitted through any state or federally issued document such as a driver’s license.
What if I do not have a document that is mandatory?
Sometimes documents may not apply to your business, such as a lease if you have a home office or personnel list if you are the only employee. In these cases, we recommend uploading a word document explaining why you don’t have this document in order to prevent any questions from your reviewer and help speed up the process.
NOTE: There is a difference between a document that does not apply and a document that has not been created. If it is mandatory and can be created, it should be.
I did not submit my application within the 90 days allowed, what do I do?
For security reasons, applications are only kept in the system for 90 days. After this time, if you have not submitted it, it will be automatically deleted and will not be recoverable and you will need to start over. You will receive multiple emails notifying you when the deadline is approaching.
Please note, you will be unable to submit a recertification application 90 days past your expiration date. If your certification lapses, you will need to submit a “New” application for certification.
I submitted my application by mistake, what do I do?
You should contact Meaghan Kelly, Certification Coordinator at firstname.lastname@example.org. She will be able to reset your application to a pending status.
How am I assured of the confidentiality of my documents once I submit them?
Security of your application and documents is our top priority.
– All submitted documents are treated with the utmost confidentiality.
– All applications must be submitted through the WBENCLink 2.0 database, which has multiple layers of encryption. We do not accept any documents by mail, email or fax.
– All reviewers, including staff and committee members, sign a non-disclosure and confidentiality agreement, and are required to recuse themselves for any conflicts of interest.
– All actions to access, view, update and comment on your application are logged for auditing purposes.
– Once certification is issued, all confidential information stays private. Only public information such as your company name, description and contact information are shared in our directory.
– Should certification lapse for more than 6 months, or if a new application is not completed within 90 days, all information is purged from the system.
Can I mail or email you my documents?
No. We only accept applications and documents through our secure, encrypted online portal, WBENCLink.
Now That Your Company is Certified
How long is a company’s certification valid?
Recertification is annual. However, WBEs are encouraged to begin the recertification process at least 90 days prior to the expiration date to avoid a lapse in certification. Your expiration date never changes, so if your recertification goes through 2 months early, you have a year and 2 months before your next expiration.
How do I download my company’s certificate?
Log into your WBENCLink.org account. From the left menu, select “View” and select “My Certifications.” In the Current Certifications box, select “View” next to the certification you would like to view. At the top of the page, select “View Letters and Certificates” and click “View” next to the WBE/WOSB certificate. NOTE: A company must have a current status of “Certified” in order to print a certificate.
Now that I am certified, how can I get corporations to do business with me?
WBENC certification does not guarantee business, however it opens up a network for you to build business relationships with corporations looking to work with women owned businesses. The number one way to build your business using the certificate is to participate in local and national events where you can meet and pitch to procurement and supplier diversity executives.
We encourage all WBEs to attend the monthly “Maximizing Your WBE Certification” webinar, which goes over everything you need to know about navigating the network.
Check out these other useful articles:
Is there a list of corporations that accept my WBE certificate?
There are over 325 corporate partners who pay dues to WBENC to have access to our directory and events where they can meet WBEs. Contact information for these corporate partners can be found in the WBENCLink directory by logging in, and selecting “search- members” on the left hand side.
Keep in mind that many more corporations and government agencies accept the certificate nation-wide, these 325+ corporations are just the ones that specifically pay dues to WBENC and are a great place to start when looking for corporate clients.
Is my certification transferable if I sell my business to another woman?
If there is a total change in ownership, the certification is not transferrable. The new owner must submit a new application and undergo the new certification process.
The exception is if the new majority female owner was a previous partial owner, you can submit a recertification and report the ownership change. For example if the 80% female owner sells and the 20% female owner takes over majority ownership, the certification will stay intact and you can submit a recertification.
How do I get the WBENC logo?
Log in to your WBENCLink profile at https://wbenc.wbenclink.org/. Select “Media and Brand Guidelines” under the Certification Center on your homepage dashboard.
The WBENC seal is well recognized among corporate and government executives, while the women owned logo is a great option for public facing marketing materials and products. You can use one or both at your discretion on your website, social media, products, business cards, etc. as long as your certification is in good standing.
How To Check The Status of Certification
Who do I call to check the status of my certification?
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. Additionally, you can contact the staff member assigned to your application.
For New Applicants
Meaghan Kelly, Senior Certification Coordinator
Yana Massey, Certification Coordinator
For Recertification Applicants
Yana Massey, Certification Manager
Emily Glick, Certification Coordinator
For Site Visit Scheduling
Fatima Ayers, Certification Specialist
For General Questions
Colleen LaCoss, Director of Certification & Business Development
Annual Recertification Quick Facts
- Annual recertification is required to maintain the certificate.
- Your annual expiration date will never change whether you apply late or early, so always apply early!
- You can recertify up to 120 days before you expire.
- Certification fees remain the same each year.
- Site visits are conducted generally every 3 years.
- Businesses who let their certification lapse for 6 months must reapply as a new applicant.
Tip from the Staff: 4 Questions We Always Get About Recertification
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. You may also be able to pre-populate most of the information from your application last year if you have not had changes.
WBENC requests for documentation:
– A renewed Sworn Affidavit
– WBENCLink2.0 User Agreement
– Updated financial information, including most recent year’s tax return, balance sheet, and profit loss statement
– Board meeting minutes and W-2s (if applicable)
– Any additional documents are only required if there have been changes such as ownership, lease, loan agreements, managers, etc.
Check out this useful resource: 4 Questions I Always Get About Recertification
Is there a processing fee for recertification?
Yes, the processing fee for recertification uses the same fee schedule as for certification. Please consult fee chart above.
Is recertification automatic?
Recertification is not automatic. The owner is sent a courtesy reminders starting 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 you mark your calendar as a reminder to begin the process at least 90 days prior to your expiration date.
For Recertification Questions
Yana Massey, Certification Manager
Emily Glick, Certification Coordinator