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2018 Student Entrepreneur Program Applications Are Now Closed
Questions? Please contact wbencsep@wbenc.org 



The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Student Entrepreneur Program (WBENC SEP) fosters growth for the next generation of women-owned businesses. Since its inception in 2008, nearly 200 students from 60+ colleges and universities across the country have graduated from SEP. WBENC is proud to invest in the next generation of Women's Business Enterprises through the support of WBENC Corporate and Government Members

Join us in taking a look back at the 2017 WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program.

Program Details:

Aspiring collegiate female entrepreneurs studying in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) or Business receive mentoring from some of the most successful Women's Business Enterprises and America's largest Fortune 500 companies while also participating in a tailored entrepreneurial curriculum, a pitch competition awarding $20,000 in seed capital and experiential learning through off-site visits to Women's Business Enterprises, corporate campuses, and accelerators.

2016 SEP Students at WeVenture

Student Testimonials:

“WBENC SEP was simply amazing! I met awesome mentors who were eager to share their experiences, knowledge, and wisdom. I left WBENC SEP inspired and motivated! I am truly grateful for being blessed with the opportunity to participate in such a wonderful program, and I look forward to becoming a WBENC certified company so that I can see everyone next year!”

– Chancedy Pulliam, 2016 SEP Graduate from Mississippi State University and Founder of PawsiblyChic LLC
“THERE IS NOTHING LIKE THIS OUT THERE. As a female entrepreneur you will face obstacles and hurdles that will discourage 95% of us. If you make it to the last 5% standing, and you make it to WBENC SEP you will get your air. You will hear testimonials and stories from very successful women on how hard it can get- but you will also learn about the happy endings if you just keep pushing and pushing. You will be inspired and in 6 days you will get all the energy you need to keep pushing your venture forward. Use that energy to help you reach the next milestone!”

– Ya-El Mandel-Portnoy 2016 SEP Graduate and Pitch Competition
Winner from Mount Sinai School of Medicine

Application Process

Applicant Eligibility

  • Student must be enrolled full time in an undergraduate or graduate program at a recognized College or University.
  • Student must be studying in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) or Business
  • Applicants must be physically located in the continental U.S. at time of the program. WBENC SEP does not cover international travel costs.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Preference will be given to applicants who are currently the owner, founder or controlling shareholder of a company and principally responsible for its operation.
  • Preference will be given to U.S. citizens

Application Criteria:

  • Written application, including an essay stating the desire to attend the program and how the program would enable them for future growth and success.
  • Resume
  • Letter of Recommendation from a faculty member or colleague.

Selection Criteria:

  • Applicants may be selected for a phone interview. Applicants are selected based on their comprehensive application, no one element is weighted more.
  • Students will be required to attend the entire program, inability to attend the entire program will result in not being accepted.
  • Students will be required to participate and complete activities with program staff and mentors prior to beginning the on-site element of the program in June.

Application Timeline:

The 2018 Application Process:

  • November 2017 - Applications open
  • Friday, February 23, 2018 - Applications due
  • April 2018 - Accepted students will be notified.  (Only students accepted into the program will be notified.)
  • April – May 2018 - Accepted students will be required to develop their pitches during this time. Students will also be paired with mentors for pre-programing during this time.
  • June 17-22, 2018 - WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program during WBENC's National Conference & Business Fair in Detroit, MI
  • Travel, lodging, and expenses will be covered by WBENC


Contact us at wbencsep@wbenc.org

“FedEx is proud to support the WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program (SEP). This program has a proven track record of providing essential resources to help encourage the next generation of women business owners. Playing a role in the growth of small businesses is a major focus area for FedEx, and it’s even more exciting to play a role in the development of young women through the SEP program.”

— Sue Spence, VP, Sourcing and Procurement, FedEx
“After hearing all of the pitches during the elevator pitches, I was awestruck with all of the amazing things that these women were pursuing. WBENC SEP gave me a new sense of pride in the words ‘female entrepreneur’. I would highly recommend this program to any woman interested in pursuing entrepreneurship.”

— Mona Amin, 2nd place Pitch Competition Winner & 2016 SEP Graduate from Eastern Carolina University, Co-Founder of Freshspire Inc.

2016 Pitch Competition

Curriculum and Pitch Competition

View or download the 2017 Curriculum and Pitch Competition in PDF format.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

+ Who is involved in the WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program?

SEP is led by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council with support from Corporate and Government Members and WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs).

+ How do I become involved in WBENC SEP?


  • Aspiring collegiate female entrepreneurs studying or with an entrepreneurial venture in one the STEAM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math) or business are encouraged to apply.

College or University

  • WBENC would like to include your University among the 60+ colleges and universities who have participated in WBENC SEP and ask for your assistance in identifying prospective students for this amazing program.

WBENC Corporate or Government Members

  • Corporate and Government Members are encouraged to not only offer monetary contributions, but to act as a SEP mentor for their sponsored student or students. For more information about serving as a mentor, click here or contact Andrew Gaeckle, Director, Strategic Planning at agaeckle@wbenc.org.

Certified Women Business Enterprises:

  • WBENC Certified WBEs are encouraged to not only offer monetary contributions, but to act as a SEP mentor for their sponsored student or students. For more information about serving as a mentor click here.

+ What are the application requirements and time line ?

Please refer to the Application Timeline on this web page.

+ What costs are associated with WBENC SEP?

Through the support of WBENC Corporate and Government Member and Certified WBEs WBENC is able to provide SEP free of charge for all students accepted into the program. Travel, Lodging, and Expenses will be covered for the program.

+ What is the Pitch Competition?

The WBENC Pitch Competition is hosted at the WBENC National Conference and Business Fair. The competition promotes women entrepreneurship and small business development by focusing on student created, managed, and owned ventures. Accepted SEP students are provided with expert feedback and the opportunity to compete for $20,000 in seed capital.

The 2018 Pitch Competition is ramping up to be more high-powered and varied than ever, in part due to the increase in the prize offerings. This year, WBENC is proud to announce a prize of $10,000 in seed capital to the first place winner, followed by $6,000 and $4,000 to the second and third place winner.