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How Successful Women Entrepreneurs Land Corporate Contracts

How Successful Women Entrepreneurs Land Corporate Contracts

The Women's Business Enterprise National Council's new president believes that certification can help women-owned businesses become important links in the global supply chain

Karen E. Klein | Business Week

What else does WBENC do, along with certification?

Our 14 regional affiliates actually take the companies through the certification process and conduct periodic review. But they also promote interaction between women-owned businesses and corporations, they host events that bring buyers and suppliers together, and they put on training programs that help women business owners understand how to go about doing business with corporations and how to go about capturing business.

In what areas do you see women-owned businesses still lagging behind their male-owned competitors?

It’s hard to generalize about that. Some smaller businesses are led by owners and executives who are highly educated, focused, and strategic. Other entrepreneurs got into business because it seemed like a good idea and they have a passion around a certain issue. Those people certainly have a bigger challenge regarding education and management expertise.

Access to capital has become much easier for women as more attention is being paid to them by major financial institutions.

Women businesses still get a very small percentage of the venture capital, however. That has not changed too much. I don’t know if that’s because women don’t know how to seek venture capital, if they don’t seek it because they don’t want to give up control of their companies, or if it’s just not an appropriate source of funding for many women-owned businesses. There are a lot of possible reasons, and not all of them have to do with venture capitalists not giving women-owned companies a chance.

How large are the companies that get certified?

The largest company we have does about $20 billion in annual revenue, and we have seven or eight certified companies with annual revenues over $1 billion. But the average WBENC-certified companies average just under $8 million in annual revenues. The lower end of the range goes down to several hundred thousand in annual revenues, so we have a lot of companies that are maybe sole proprietorships or have one or two employees. They tend to be consultants, speakers, or trainers. We’re not looking at size, we’re certifying that the company is at least 51% woman-owned, -operated, and -controlled.


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