In today’s alphabet soup of business certifications, one of the most widely respected and recognized is WBE, or Women’s Business Enterprise. In order to have WBE certification, a business must be 51% or more woman-owned, controlled, operated and managed.
To become certified as a WBE a business goes through a rigorous evaluation process that includes an in-depth review and a site visit. Certification is performed by a third party, such as the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council.
Once a business is certified, it’s up to the company to pursue corporate and federal contracts. "Being a WBE in the construction industry has been the best thing that ever happened to Tishhouse Electric, Inc.,” comments Carrie Tishouse, president. “It helped us win two MSHDA subsidized housing project renovations, and we have several other projects coming soon.”
Companies like Cocoa-Cola and General Motors have made firm commitments to supplier diversity procurement with an emphasis on women, including asking their suppliers to spend more with WBEs. Certification gives purchasers the confidence in knowing that the company they are choosing to work with is women-owned. On the supplier side, certification can create opportunities that would otherwise never be available and that can help a company scale up quickly.
Lisa Bower, president of Plus One Meetings, notes that “being WBE certified gives you access to dedicated supplier diversity professionals who are eager to help you grow your business and succeed. They can often make an introduction to the people you need to get in front of to share what you bring to the table. My certification has opened the door for me with many of our region's top employers.”
Using as WBE as a subcontractor can help win more business for companies that aren’t woman-owned. Proposals which contain a WBE subcontractor are often given extra points during the evaluation process. Using a WBE can contribute to the overall proposal goals and help push you over the edge when a purchaser makes their decision.
Becoming a WBE can give women business owners increased access to contracting opportunities, national recognition, and a pathway to grow their business.