Should My Company Become A Certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE)?

Contributed by Danielle L. Dietrich

If you are a female business owner, you may be certified or are considering obtaining certification as a Women’s Business Enterprise.

The basic qualifications for WBE certification include:

  • At least 51% ownership by a woman or several women;
  • Actual control and management of the business; and
  • Proof of invested equity or expertise in exchange for her ownership shares.

The certification process can be intimidating.  Several organizations certify WBEs, but all require the submission of extensive documentation.  This required documentation includes detailed business and financial statements, and may require personal financial statements.  Most certifying organizations charge a fee and involve an in-person site visit.  You will also be required to renew every year.  This involves a fee and the updating of previously submitted information.

Some businesses wonder when might be the right time to begin the certification process. According to Amy Criss, Director of Women Business Enterprise at 84 Lumber, you need to be in a position to grow your business.  “Certification won’t put business in your lap.  However, it is a tool to have in your tool belt to win jobs.  It is something extra that will make you stand out.  You have to be willing to work it through networking and meetings to lead to additional sales.”

Danielle L. Dietrich is an attorney at Tucker Arensberg, P.C. who advises women owned businesses and helps them resolve conflicts so that the owners can concentrate on growing their business.  She also assists businesses with the WBE certification process.