What is Women Business Enterprise (WBE) Certification?
WEConnect International corporate members use WEConnect International Women’s Business Enterprise certification as a tool to ensure that they are purchasing goods and/or services from women owned businesses.
What are the criteria for certification?
Four criteria considered to determine eligibility for certification:
- Ownership – A woman or women must hold 51% or more of the ownership assets in the company
- Management and control – Women owners must have independent and unilateral control of the day to day and long term business decisions
- Contribution of capital and expertise – Women owners must demonstrate a contribution of capital and/or expertise that corresponds to her ownership in the company
- Independence – the women owners must operate independently from males or male owned enterprises and arrangements of shared resources, employees, and leadership will be closely examined
What are the benefits of certification?
- Mentorship from WEConnect International market leaders to evaluate business readiness and certification eligibility
- Access to WEConnect International’s secure global online community of corporate members and women owned businesses
- Invitations to forums presented by corporate members, with overviews of their procurement process and practical tips on responding to Requests for Proposals (RFPs)
- Networking opportunities with procurement officers from member corporations
- Training workshops on how to leverage your certification
- Opportunities to connect with and learn from other certified companies on key success factors and strategies
- Opportunity to attend global and local events, as well as register for the dynamic annual conference of WBENC, our United States certification partner
What is the process for certification?
- If you are self-registered, login to your profile on the eNetwork and continue your certification application.
- If you do not have a login and password to the eNetwork, create them here.
- Complete the application and submit it. Once you submit your application, you will make the non-refundable certification payment. Payment amounts vary by country and applicants in Europe, and China have alternative methods of payment. Contact your market representative if you have questions.
- Upload the required documents related to your company to complete your application. A full document list is provided in the application. Contact your market representative if you have questions.
- Once the application is reviewed by WEConnect International and payment is received, a team member will contact the applicant to schedule an interview and assessment based on the submitted application and documents. Some interviews can take place either in-person or virtually. WEConnect International will decide what type of interview is required for your business. You are unable to request an interview type.
- The assessor will make a recommendation to WEConnect International based on the application, submitted documents, and interview about whether or not the applicant meets the criteria for certification. WEConnect International makes the final decision on all certification applications. If a business meets the criteria WEConnect International will issue a certificate that will be valid for one year.
- Each year, a certified WBE will be required to renew their certification. If there has been no material change to the business that would impact its status, then a new certificate will be issued. If there have been significant changes to the business, WEConnect International reserves the right to require an assessment. There is a yearly fee required to renew a certification.
- A certification interview and assessment is required every four years. If a renewal assessment is not required a renewal application can be completed.
What is Business Readiness?
Corporate members have identified 15 key factors in evaluating a company’s capacity to access their supply chains. The Business Readiness part of the assessment will provide a customized assessment of how many of these best practices the company has in place. Those 15 factors are:
- Up-to-date governance documents
- Tax returns for three years
- Website-Email address for customers
- Business Plan/ Marketing Plan
- Dun & Bradstreet Number
- Up to date financial statements/ Audited financial statements
- Payment and Invoicing systems
- Documented hiring and firing procedures
- Documentation for the facility where the company operates
- Loans or financing/Line of credit
- Multi-national partners, agents, customers (purchase orders, invoices, etc.)
- Supplier diversity program
- Sustainability or “green” measures
- Social Media Plan, revised marketing and business plan
The Business Readiness part of the assessment will provide a customized assessment of how many of these best practices your company has in place.
Does my company have to meet all of the business readiness criteria in order to become certified?
No. Business readiness is used as a tool to help you determine your company’s capacity to do business within a multinational corporation’s supply chain. WEConnect International can suggest specific trainings and opportunities based on your company’s business readiness.
Are there size or length-of-time in business requirements to become a certified WBE?
No. However, WEConnect International recommends applicants be operating for several years before applying for WBE certification so they are able to leverage the certification.
Is there a fee to apply for WBE certification?
The certification process includes an assessment to review documentation and respond to any questions on your application about the criteria. The business owner pays a fee for this service. The amount of the fees varies by region and size of your business, but each applicant must pay a non-refundable fee to complete the certification process.
Is the fee refundable?
No, the fee for the certification assessment is non-refundable.
How long does the WBE certification process take?
Certification can take up to 90 days from the time an application and payment are submitted until a final determination is issued by WEConnect International. In the event of scheduling conflicts, the certification process could take more time.
How long is my WBE certification valid?
All WBE certifications are valid for one year and must be renewed yearly.
What if my assessor asks to see documentation I do not have available or do not want to share?
You will be provided a list of documentation that must be available for review by WEConnect International. All of the documentation on the list is required and should be available for review by WEConnect International or its assessors. If there is any documentation that is not available during the assessment visit, WEConnect International is unable to make a final determination about your application until that documentation has been reviewed by an assessor.
All of the documentation requested for review is required. If there is any required documentation related to your business that you do not wish share, WEConnect International will issue a determination of incomplete and will be unable to issue your business a WBE certification.
Why do I need to share private information about my business with WEConnect International?
WEConnect International upholds the global standard for Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certification set by our corporate members and used by our U.S. partner organization. To ensure that the standard is upheld, WEConnect International requires review of private business information, including company ownership and financial information, as part of the certification process. WEConnect International will review this information during the certification process but does not retain copies of any documents beyond that time. We require that each certified WBE retain copies of all documentation reviewed during the certification process in the event that WEConnect International needs to review it at a later date.
Why do I need to upload this information to WEConnect International’s eNetwork?
WEConnect International is a global organization with a network of thousands of business owners. We have found that having documents uploaded is the best way to manage the certification application of each company. It also limits the back-and-forth that can occur when there are questions related to certification assessments and ensures all required documentation has been submitted before an assessment is scheduled.
Is there another way I can share my information and documents without uploading them to the eNetwork?
At this time, WEConnect International only allows company documents to be submitted by uploading them to our eNetwork. This is more secure than other forms of submission, such as email, and allows us to ensure that your documents are stored while needed and then removed leaving only a digital fingerprint.
Will WEConnect International keep copies of my documents?
WEConnect International keeps copies of the documents only during your business’ assessment process. After 180 days, WEConnect International deletes all documents that are collected and keeps only a digital fingerprint of the documents collected for our records. We require that each certified WBE retains copies of all documents submitted in the event they need to be reviewed at a later date.
What is a digital fingerprint?
Digital fingerprinting is a technique in which software identifies, extracts, and then compresses characteristic components of a file enabling that file to be uniquely identified by its resultant "fingerprint."
Who at WEConnect International will view and have access to my documents?
Each applicant company will be assigned a certification assessor responsible for reviewing all documents. That assessor and our certification team making the final decision on your certification application are the only ones who will have access to your company’s documents.
Will WEConnect International share my documents with corporate members?
WEConnect International values your privacy. We will never share your documents with anyone beyond our certification team. We do not share any information on our certified WBEs with our corporate members beyond what is included in your public eNetwork profile.
What country’s data privacy laws does WEConnect International follow?
WEConnect International in a U.S. non-profit organization governed by U.S. law. However, we operate in a global economy where data privacy laws are constantly changing. We follow the laws related to U.S. organizations in each country that we operate in.
Where are WEConnect International’s servers located?
WEConnect International’s servers are located in the United States.
What if my company is found ineligible for WBE certification?
If your company is found ineligible for WBE certification WEConnect International will contact you and outline the reasons for the determination. You will be given 60 days to provide additional documentation for consideration. If inadequate or no documentation is provided within 60 days your company is eligible to re-apply for certification after one year has passed.
My company is located in the U.S. and is certified by WBENC. I’m interested in doing business internationally. Can my company also be certified by WEConnect International?
Companies that have already been certified by WBENC are eligible to register with WEConnect International and join our network. WEConnect International does not offer companies certified by WBENC an additional certification because WBENC and WEConnect International issue the same certification to companies in different geographic locations.
Who can I contact if I have additional question about certification?
If you have additional questions, please contact the market lead in your country/region. You can find a full list of contact information on our website.