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At the start of 2013, MelroseMAC received its official certification from the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) as a Woman Owned Business.  The WBENC is the most highly regarded organization providing certification for Women Owned Businesses.

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In this post, we want to tell you a little about the WBENC, walk you through the certification process, and tell a little about what it has done for MelroseMAC.

About the WBENC

The certification opens doors to do more business with larger companies.  More than 1,000 corporations representing America’s largest brands accept the certification, plus it is often required for Government contract work, as these organizations need to meet annual diversity initiatives.

The organization offers its members privileged access to key decision makers at major corporations when they host their WBENC events several times a year.  WBENC offers numerous training and certification programs to teach women business owners how to leverage their WBENC certification to go after, and secure, major accounts.

The WBENC is also an approved Third Party Certifier for the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program.  In addition, the WBENC offers marketing data as well as access to mentoring, education, and capacity development.

Here is a great segment from PBS about the WBENC, and what it has done for at least two woman-owned businesses in the states.

Who should register as a woman-owned business through the WBENC?

The business must be 51% owned by a woman

Your business must be 51 percent owned, controlled, operated, and managed by a woman or women, and you need to show that a woman holds the highest position at the company and is active in daily management and strategic direction.

The WBENC is looking for authenticity here, so you should have several ways of proving that yours is a woman-owned business.

Even if you meet the above requirements, you still want to find out if the certification is right for you.  You can look at the FAQ’s on the WBENC website, and you can take their certification quiz

How to get certified as a Woman Owned Business

The process and documentation

A lot goes in to the certification process, because a lot has to be verified.

Before you start, it’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with the process.

Next, get organized: The WBENC requires a lot of documentation during the application process, so check out this list, and gather it all up front.

Apply online

Here is why it is important to have everything you need before you begin the application process: once you start the application, the site will only save it online for 90 days. So if you start the process online and find you are missing a crucial piece of information, you’ll have to start all over again.

Review, review, review

When you complete the last page of the application it will let you print it to review for accuracy. If you submit the application, and find you’ve made an error, you will not be able to make changes.

Additional documentation and fees

Within 24 hours of submitting the application, you will receive an automated email with the name of your assigned Regional Partner Organization, and an address to mail the required documents and fee.

(The fee is based on your region and the markets you serve).

After your application is submitted it will be reviewed by the Certification Review Committee within 15 business days and will be processed in 90 days or so.

Site Visit

We mentioned authentication, yes?  Be prepared for a site visit and in-person interview. The purpose of the site visit is for the committee to observe how the business is run, and verify that there is in fact a woman at the helm.

After the site visit team has met with all the owners, a determination will be emailed to you.

Don’t forget to renew

This certification requires an annual renewal, so once you are an approved WBENC, put the renewal date on your calendar.

What has the certification done for MelroseMAC?

Being a WBENC-certified woman-owned business has afforded MelroseMAC the opportunity to take part in numerous educational programs offered by the organization.  In addition, representatives from the company have had the opportunity to attend WBENC events and sit down with decision makers at prominent corporations.  Plus, we’ve become that much more valuable to our local and State Government clients.

“For us, the WBENC certification cements what has always been true for our company – a knowledgeable leader in our industry”, commented Sandy Nasseri, Founder of MelroseMAC.  “Plus it has opened doors for us in terms of training and networking, and really being able to add that extra value to our clients who need to meet important diversity initiatives.”

What do you think?

Are you a Woman-Owned business, or thinking about getting certified?  Let is know your thoughts in the comments.


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