How to get certified as a women-owned business

Published on Apr 27, 2023

How to get certified as a women-owned business

Getting certified as a women-owned business provides access to resources and tools that can help your business grow. A Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) certification offers support for women-owned companies and can provide access to new business opportunities that may not have otherwise been available. 

What does it mean to obtain a WBE certification?

A WBE certification is the most widely recognized and respected national certification for women-owned businesses in the United States. This certification comes with benefits that make it easier for women to access opportunities and resources that might not have otherwise been available to them. Becoming WBE certified involves a rigorous vetting process and as a result, it’s considered the gold standard for women-owned business certifications. It’s accepted by more than 1,000 corporations as well as some states, cities, and other entities. 

Why should women-owned businesses get certified? 

While there is a strict vetting process involved in getting certified, the benefits of getting certified might be worth it for some women-owned businesses. This certification offers access to a large support network including:

You can learn more about the benefits of getting certified as a women-owned business here

What types of businesses are eligible for certification?

In order to be eligible for certification, businesses must be owned, controlled, operated, and managed at least 51% by a woman or women. And, one or more women must have unrestricted control over the business with major involvement in the day-to-day operations in addition to an investment of capital or expertise.  

How much does it cost to get certified? 

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (“WBENC”) is the nation’s leading non-profit organization that is a 3rd party certifier of women-owned businesses.  When obtaining WBE certification through WBENC, there are non-refundable processing fees that depend on revenue size. WBENC’s fees are: 

How do I get certified? 

If you’ve been considering applying to get certified, here are the steps to get started. 

  1. First, determine if you are eligible. Take a look at the qualifications above and see if you meet the criteria.
  2. Compile the required documentation. Before you officially apply, it’s a good idea to gather your documents ahead of time. You can find a full list of the required documentation here:
  3. Complete the online application. Once you have all of your documents, you can get started on your online application here:
  4. After your application is submitted, the review process can take up to 90 days due to the two-part process that the organization uses including a thorough review of the documents provided and a site visit to interview the female owner or owners. You will be contacted to arrange the site visit with the owner.
  5. At this stage, a certification committee will make a decision on your certification. You will be notified by email and traditional mail when a decision has been made.
  6. If you’re approved, you’ll have access to a wide range of benefits. And, don’t forget to set a reminder to re-certify. 

Are you looking for other organizations that may be local to you and perhaps can provide WBE certification at low-to-no cost? Contact your local SBDC (Small Business Development Center). There are more than 1,000 operating in the US, all offering counseling, training and certification assistance. And as they are funded in part by the US SBA, this help may be free of charge. For more information, check out this site, or go to your local SBA regional or district office or your local Women’s Business Center.

Finally, Valley’s Women in Business Program is a great resource for women-owned businesses looking to expand their network, connect with others in or out of their industry and take advantage of unique program perks. Learn more about our program that fosters collaboration and connection. 

Women in Business

Women in Business

Valley's Women in Business Program is an essential resource for women looking to expand their network, connect with others in or out of their industry, and take advantage of unique program perks.

Learn More