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WBE Eligibility Criteria

The minimum requirements to qualify as a WBE with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) or a WBE program administered by a city, county or state are:

  • A for-profit business located in the United States;
  • 51% owned by a woman, or a group of women who, but for an inheritance, contributed a proportionate amount of capital to acquire ownership.
  • When applicable, governing board is controlled by a woman or a group of women;
  • Top executive officer, responsible for daily operations is a woman with a technical expertise (experience) in the firm’s primary business activity;
  • Women owners are U.S. Citizens or legal residents.

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MBE

Certification for Minority-owned Businesses

Minority Business Enterprise Certification with the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), a private third-party that certifies minority-owned businesses on behalf of U.S. corporations or MBE certification through city, county or state programs.

WBE

Certification for Women-owned Businesses

Women Business Enterprise Certification with the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), a private third-party that certifies women-owned businesses on behalf of U.S. corporations or WBE certification through city, county or state programs.

DBE

Certification for Minority or Women-owned Businesses

Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Certification by the U.S. Department of Transportation through state transportation authorities for minorities or women-owned businesses, or other socially and economically disadvantaged individuals such as persons with disabilities.

8(a) or WOSB

Certification for Minority or Women-owned Businesses

8(a) Business Development Program administered by the Small Business Administration (SBA) for small businesses owned by minorities or women who are socially and economically disadvantaged individuals or as a Women-owned Small Business – WOSB certification.

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WBE Q & A FAQs

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is the nation’s leading third-party certifier, who certifies companies as women-owned business enterprises (WBEs) on behalf of the private sector (U.S. Corporations). Once WBENC certified as a WBE, the WBENC provides its corporate members with access to the WBENC’s online database of certified WBEs.

Fees are determined by each local certifying office [the WBENC refers to local certifying partners as Regional Partner Organizations (RPO’s)]. Visit the WBENC website’s Regional Partner Organizations territory map, and then select your state to identify the correct RPO for your region/state

Similar to above, fees are determined by each, individual certification program.

The following is a brief summary of 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 local certifying office (or RPO) has a certification staff and a certification committee, who generally meet once a month.
  3. Once the certification staff review the application and determine no other documents are required the application is reviewed by the certification committee.
  4. After the certification committee reviews the application, an on-site visit is conducted at a pre-determined time with the woman business owner(s).
  5. Following the site visit, at a subsequent meeting of the certification committee, a final decision is made regarding the firm’s eligibility; generally speaking, if approved, applicants are notified by e-mail and if denied, a formal letter is sent.

The following is a general list of documents for the WBE certification. Note: other documents may be required by individual certification office.

  • Commercial Tax Returns for 3 previous years; if firm is less than 3 years old, owners personal returns should be provided in lieu of each year a commercial return is not available
  • Financial Statements corresponding to tax returns listed above
  • Debt Instruments including but not limited to: loans, lines of credit, notes payable, agreements, promissory notes, surety agreements, security agreements, real estate leases and long term rental or lease agreements
  • Commercial bank signature authorization card and corporate banking resolution
  • Proof of capital and/or equity investment by female owner(s)
  • Employee List
  • Most recent employee payroll
  • W-2s and/or 1099 forms from every owner, officer or director
  • Written Business History
  • Professional License(s) (if applicable)
  • Local Business License (if applicable)
  • Resumes of all Owners, directors, and key personnel
  • Proof of Gender
  • Proof of Citizenship or Legal Residency
  • Any trust agreement(s) involving the majority female ownership
  • Employee Stock Ownership Plan Agreements – ESOPS’s (if applicable)
  • Corporation Documents: articles of incorporation and amendments, shareholder and director meeting notes, bylaws, stock certificates and ledger and any agreement affecting owner’s rights
  • Certificate of Authority if an out of state company
  • LLC Documents: formation and filed amendments, operating agreement and any amendments
  • Partnership Documents: all agreements related to the rights of partners; if LLP copy of state formation
  • Management/Consulting agreements Service agreements (influencing the daily operations)
  • Affiliate Agreements defined as common business ownership of 5% or more
  • Subsidiary Agreements defined as a parent company holds 50% of another entity’s stock
  • Franchise Agreements
  • Union Agreements

Yes, provided, 51% of the entity is owned by a woman, or a group of women who, but for an inheritance, contributed a proportionate amount of capital to acquire ownership and, when applicable, the entity’s governing board is controlled by a woman or a group of women, and the executive officer, responsible for daily operations is a woman with a technical expertise (experience) in the firm’s primary business activity and the women owners are U.S. Citizens or legal residents.

Yes, an on-site visit is mandatory with each initial application, every three years thereafter, or at the certifying office’s discretion.

But for a few exceptions, in general, all of the female owners who comprise 51% ownership of the applicant firm.

The following is a general list of documents. Note: other documents may be required by individual WBE certification programs.

  • Commercial Tax Returns for 3 previous years; if firm is less than 3 years old, owners personal returns should be provided in lieu of each year a commercial return is not available
  • Financial Statements corresponding to tax returns listed above
  • Debt Instruments including but not limited to: loans, lines of credit, notes payable, agreements, promissory notes, surety agreements, security agreements, real estate leases and long term rental or lease agreements
  • Commercial bank signature authorization card and corporate banking resolution
  • Proof of capital and/or equity investment by female owner(s)
  • Employee List
  • Most recent employee payroll
  • W-2s and/or 1099 forms from every owner, officer or director
  • Written Business History
  • Professional License(s) (if applicable)
  • Local Business License (if applicable)
  • Resumes of all Owners, directors, and key personnel
  • Proof of Gender
  • Proof of Citizenship or Legal Residency
  • Any trust agreement(s) involving the majority female ownership
  • Employee Stock Ownership Plan Agreements – ESOPS’s (if applicable)
  • Corporation Documents: articles of incorporation and amendments, shareholder and director meeting notes, bylaws, stock certificates and ledger and any agreement affecting owner’s rights
  • Certificate of Authority if an out of state company
  • LLC Documents: formation and filed amendments, operating agreement and any amendments
  • Partnership Documents: all agreements related to the rights of partners; if LLP copy of state formation
  • Management/Consulting agreements Service agreements (influencing the daily operations)
  • Affiliate Agreements defined as common business ownership of 5% or more
  • Subsidiary Agreements defined as a parent company holds 50% of another entity’s stock
  • Franchise Agreements
  • Union Agreements

Additional information about the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s WBE Certification Program is also available here

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