The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is Founded

Susan Phillips Bari,
first President of WBENC

In early 1997, five women’s business development organizations and several corporations met in Dallas to form what would become the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). The organization was established as a 501(c)(3) organization in the District of Columbia and on March 14, 1997, a 90-day interim board began searching for a permanent Board of Directors and the organization’s first President and CEO.

WBENC Surpasses 60 Corporate Members

By 1998 WBENC has 64 Corporate Members throughout the United States.

First Salute to Women's Business Enterprises and First Group of WBE Stars and Americas Top Corporations are Recognized

WBENC establishes the first “Salute to Women’s Business Enterprises” which includes the first annual list of America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises. WBENC awards the first Women’s Business Enterprise Stars, recognizing WBEs from each Regional Partner Organization (RPO).

2000 Salute to Women’s Business Enterprises

2000 Salute to Women’s Business Enterprises

2000 America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises

Network Grows to Include 12 Women's Business Regional Partner Organizations (RPOs)

In 2000, WBENC grew from the five original Business Organization Partners to a total of 12 RPOs, expanding the depth and breadth of the network.

WBENC.org and WBENCLink launch

At the start of the year, WBENC establishes its website domain at www.wbenc.org and launches the online WBENC Certification database, WBENCLink, with more than 2000 WBENC-Certified WBEs.

First National Conference & Business Fair

The first-ever Women in Business 2000: Sharing the Vision National Conference is held in Arlington, Texas, and WBENC partners with the North Texas Women’s Business Council (currently WBCS).

The President's Report Goes Digital

In 2002, the popular monthly “President’s Report” from WBENC goes electronic, enabling WBENC to expand its reach to more than 5,000 readers.

WBENC Celebrates Five Years of Success During Salute to Women's Business Enterprises

During this milestone year, WBENC announces the Dorothy B. Brothers Executive Scholarship Program for WBEs and 16 WBEs are awarded up to $5,000 each. The “Salute to Women’s Business Enterprises: The Enterprising Economy” is held at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. For the first time, the America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises ceremony is held at the White House, honoring the “Elite Eight” group of honorees.

Toasting at the Salute to Women’s Business Enterprises

The Inaugural Tuck-WBENC Executive Program

In October 2003, WBENC presents the inaugural Tuck-WBENC Executive Program, underwritten by IBM and held at their facility in Palisades, NY. WBENC sends 45 WBEs and three RPO Executive Directors to the one-week intensive executive development program taught by professors from Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.

Inaugural graduating class of the Tuck-WBENC Executive Program

2004 is a Year for Advocacy

2004 is a key advocacy year for WBENC, with WBEs from around the United States selected to testify before Congressional committees; meet with President George W. Bush in a roundtable discussion; and listen to the State of the Union address in the First Lady’s box.

A New WBENC Logo is Revealed

As part of the re-branding campaign, a new WBENC logo is first revealed during the seventh annual Salute to Women’s Business Enterprises.

The 5th Annual Women in Business is Held in New Orleans and Features the Inaugural MatchMaker Series

Embracing the local culture during Women in Business

WBENC Named 2005 Nonprofit of the Year by WorkLife Matters
WBENC Strengthens Board governance

Updates are made to the Bylaws, Audit and Compensation Committees is created and a Code of Ethics is implemented for staff, vendors, and members of the board.

Linda Denny Named Interim President of WBENC

Linda Denny

After having served in the role of Vice President since 2003, Linda assumes the role of interim President and Susan Phillips Bari becomes the President Emeritus. Linda is formally announced in June of 2007 as the second President & CEO of the organization.



Being the second President and CEO of WBENC was the honor of a lifetime! Long hours of hard work by the many individuals involved yielded growth and maturity for WBENC, strengthened relationships with all of our constituents and partners, and launched exciting new ventures.

WBENC Assists in Establishing a WBE Certification Program in the United Kingdom

Based on the WBENC model, this is the first program of its kind outside the U.S.

WBENC Celebrates its 10th Anniversary at the Salute to Women's Business Enterprises in Dallas, TX

The Salute to Women’s Business Enterprises is held in Dallas, in March, at the Women’s History Museum. Prior to the Salute, The Founders’ Dinner recognizes the original leadership and early builders of the organization, including its first president, Susan Phillips Bari, who is presented with The Standing Ovation Award, honoring her years of leadership, commitment and vision.

Cutting the ribbon to open the Business Fair

WEConnect International is Formed

WEConnect is created to be the official organization to develop international WBE Certifications.

The Salute Becomes The Summit & Salute

The event is expanded to add a thought leadership and educational component and is named the “Summit & Salute to Women’s Business Enterprises.”

The First William J. Alcorn Leadership Award is Presented to Barbara Carbone

The William J. Alcorn Leadership Award, in recognition of our first Board Chair, is the highest honor given to an individual at WBENC. The Award recognizes exemplary leadership contributions made by individuals in support of the WBENC mission to open the doors of opportunity in corporate contracting to certified Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs).

Over 10,000 WBEs Are Currently Certified by WBENC
WBENC Champions the Groundbreaking "The Roadmap to 2020"

WBENC champions a groundbreaking initiative, The Roadmap to 2020, an exciting collaboration of 10 women’s business organizations and 20 companies presenting key strategies for women’s businesses to fuel economic growth and add six million jobs in 10 years.

WBENC Approved as a Third-Party Certifier to Provide the Women Owned Small Business (WOSB) Certification

The SBA WOSB Federal Contracting Program enables contracting officers to set aside certain contracts for competition among WOSBs or Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Businesses (EDWOSBs) for the provision of goods and services to the Federal Government.

Pamela Prince-Eason Appointed the 3rd President & CEO of WBENC / Laura Taylor Appointed Chair of the WBENC Board

Linda Denny & Pamela Prince-Eason

After serving as the Chair of the WBENC Board of Directors, Pamela Prince-Eason transitions from her role as Vice President of Worldwide Procurement at Pfizer to be the new President & CEO of WBENC.

An Updated Mission and Vision Statement Is Released

VISION: To be the leader in women’s business development.

MISSION: The WBENC mission is to fuel economic growth globally through access to opportunities, by identifying, certifying and facilitating development of women-owned businesses.

The Roadmap for Growth and Sustainability: Certification, Opportunities, Resources, and Engagement (CORE) is Released

Led by Board Chair, Laura Taylor, five teams develop the strategies and action plan to lead WBENC into its next phase.

WBENC Celebrates 15 Years!

WBENC proudly celebrates past and present visionaries whose passion, time, and talents left an indelible mark on our organization during the past 15 years.

The Student Entrepreneur Program Debuts at the National Conference & Business Fair

WBENC partners with Shell to present an invigorating Student Entrepreneur (SEP) program (now the Collegiate Accelerator) held over the course of the conference week, focused on STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields. The first SEP pitch competition is held to assist young entrepreneurs to articulate their business goals.

The Tagline "Join Forces. Succeed Together." is Unveiled

This phrase illustrates the need for every constituent group in WBENC (Corporate and Government Members, Regional Partner Organizations, WBEs, Affiliates, and WBENC Staff) to come together as a collaborative collective advancing the mission and vision of WBENC.

During the Summit & Salute, the Levels of Distinction for America's Top Corporations are Introduced

The new levels, Bronze, Silver, Gold & Platinum further define the evolution of diversity programs and practices.

Pamela Prince-Eason is Appointed to the National Women's Business Council (NWBC)

The NWBC is a non-partisan Federal advisory organization that provides independent counsel to the White House, Congress and the Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. This role is a Congressionally appointed role.

The Women Owned Logo Debuts During the National Conference & Business Fair in Philadelphia.

Women Owned is an initiative from WBENC and WEConnect International to create a movement of support for women-owned businesses. WBENC supports female entrepreneurs and those who do business with them by raising awareness for why, where, and how to buy women-owned. Walmart stepped up as the founding sponsor of Women Owned.

The National Conference & Business Fair is Held in Austin, TX

During the National Conference & Business Fair the Student Entrepreneur Program (now Collegiate Accelerator) expands to include Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math (STEAM) and Business. For the first time ever, the winners of the SEP Pitch Competition are awarded seed capital sponsored by EY.

The WBENC Blog Launches as a Platform to Regularly Share WBENC News
During the Summit & Salute, the New Program WeInnovate Debuts as well as the Campaign to ActIntentionally

WeInnovate! is a new opportunity for WBEs to connect with Corporate Members. During this session a select group of WBE’s make innovation proposals to Corporate Members eager to hear from women-owned businesses who are qualified to bring groundbreaking solutions to market.

ACTIntentionally is a WBENC campaign that enables the network to show its appreciation for those corporations most supportive of the WBENC mission and dedication to the inclusion of women-owned business in their supply chain. The commitment, engagement, and energy of Corporate Members is what makes it possible for WBENC and its network of Regional Partner Organizations to continue to support and develop women-owned businesses. This campaign encourages the WBENC network to “support those who support us.”

Industry Pavilions are Featured and the First Hes4Shes are Recognized During National Conference & Business Fair

For the first time, the Business Fair features two special industry focused areas: The Energy Pavilion and Automotive World.

WBENC recognizes the very first Hes4Shes Champion, Eugene Campbell, for his dedication to furthering the development of women-owned businesses.

The New Fully Digitized WBENCLink2.0 is Unveiled

In September 2016 WBENC unveils the new WBENCLink2.0, the redesigned and improved online database. The digitized platform increases efficiency, integrates innovations, eliminates paper applications, and ensures security.

The Women of Color Outreach Program Launches

The Women of Color Program is an outreach and development program designed to build and strengthen a dynamic ecosystem for women of color entrepreneurs designed to engage, advise and drive the growth of women of color women-owned businesses.

The Legacy of Leaders Forms

In honor of the WBENC 20th anniversary in 2017, the Legacy of Leaders program launches. This new recognition structure is designed to honor and engage both WBEs and Corporate Members who have served in a significant leadership role throughout the WBENC network. The Legacy of Leaders program honors 25 WBEs as Women of Distinction and inducts 15 advocates from the corporate world into the new EnCORE group.

National Conference & Business Fair: Looking Back. To the Future. in Las Vegas

The WBENC 20th Anniversary National Conference & Business Fair marks a week of education, networking, and celebrations, “Looking Back. To the Future.”





WBENC Launches the NextGen Program

This new outreach program is dedicated to nurturing the next generation of the WBENC network – millennial and Generation Z Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) and supplier diversity professionals. WBENC launches the program as part of the 20th anniversary celebration to nurture the future of the WBENC network.

30 WBEs Participate in the Inaugural Energy Executive Program

The WBENC Energy Executive Program is a blended learning, immersive executive education experience focused on driving development of Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE) leaders within the Energy Industry.

WBENC & Dell launch the Women in Tech Program

This program is launched to accelerate the growth of participating women-owned technology businesses. The Dell team brings together industry leaders dedicated to help WBEs grow their business in this, now annual, Dell Women in Technology Program.

The New WBENC Logo Debuts

As WBENC moves into its 21st year, the new WBENC logo makes its debut. Designed to complement the Women Owned Logo which debuted in 2014, the new WBENC Logo and WBENC-Certified WBE Seal ties the entire WBENC brand together, launching a new era.

Planet Mogul Debuts

The WBENC network heads back to school to spend the Monday before the National Conference with a group of students in Detroit, Michigan. The Planet Mogul program develops the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators, and workforce and community leaders by providing an intellectual and interactive learning environment for elementary-middle school students.

31 WBEs Graduate from the Robert Half Accelerated Leadership Development Program

This new program develops their leadership skills through a series of sessions focused on leading with character, collaborative leadership, and making a strategic contribution.

Number of WBENC-Certified WBEs Surpasses 15,000

First ever Collaboration Award is Presented to Four Energy Companies: BP America Inc., Chevron, ExxonMobil Corporation, and Shell


WBENC Enters New Era of Expanded and Innovative Virtual Programming

WBENC leads the nation in women’s professional development expansion and innovation during the COVID-19 pandemic, adding significant new virtual programs including WeTHRIVE. This new era of professional development programming from WBENC has continued as the organization returned to in-person and hybrid offerings in addition to virtual programs and cohorts.

15 WBEs Receive $5,000 Funding from Wells Fargo WBENC LIFT Grant Program

To support women entrepreneurs most impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and related economic challenges, WBENC partnered with Wells Fargo in 2020 to launch a new grant program – the Wells Fargo WBENC LIFT Grant, part of the WBENC LIFT Financial Center of Excellence,

Women of Color Program Features Five Sessions

Thanks to the generous support of Women of Color Program sponsors The Coca-Cola Company, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Southern California Edison, and Walmart Inc., the program increases its programming from 2 sessions in 2019 to 5 in 2020 and expanded its social media and virtual programming reach.

NextGen Pitch Intensive Debuts

The NextGen Pitch Intensive provides education, guidance and opportunities to pitch up-and-coming businesses. NextGen is an outreach program dedicated to nurturing the next generation of the WBENC network – millennial and Generation Z Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) and supplier diversity professionals.

WBENC Cummins Grant for Black Student Female Founders Launches and Funds 12 Young Leaders

This new grant program invests in the future of Black businesses, providing 12 student entrepreneurs with up to $6,000 in funding to invest in their businesses. Key elements of the program involve connecting Black experienced woman business owners and executives with Black college entrepreneurs and companies that drive change for a healthy planet.

2020 COVID-19 Suppliers & Resource Center Supports the Network

As the world grapples with rapid change, the WBENC team goes right into action. As part of its support to the network through the COVID-19 pandemic and recovery, WBENC compiles and provides a list of WBENC-Certified suppliers able to offer COVID-19 related products and/or services during the crisis.

WBENC Listens Becomes a Staple

These virtual, bi-monthly sessions from WBENC are one of the ways to support WBEs during the COVID-19 crisis. In partnership with the 14 Regional Partner Organizations, the Women of Distinction, and the Women’s Enterprise Forum, WBENC provides valuable business resources and listens to WBEs as they share their experiences and what’s on their mind, connecting with women business owners from across the country and to continuing to build and strengthen their network of support.

Wells Fargo Executive Education Program Refreshes and Goes Virtual

Wells Fargo and WBENC partnered together in 2020 to present a refreshed virtual version of the Executive Education Program for Certified Women-Owned Businesses (now known as WeIGNITE). The program provides women-owned businesses access to the resources to retool, restore and recover. A cornerstone of the program is the discussion around self-implementation by participants of the Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS), a set of simple, practical, real-world tools that help entrepreneurs and leadership teams improve the operational value of their businesses.

WBENCPitch Pivot is First Fully Virtual Competition from WBENC

As part of the WBENC signature WBENCPitch program, WBENCPitch Pivot is designed to showcase women entrepreneurs who pivoted their businesses and stepped outside of the box to create or offer products, services, and solutions that fill supply chain gaps during the COVID-19 crisis. Thirteen WBEs participate in the competition and all 13 finalists receive a prize ranging from $2,000 to $10,000.

Inaugural WeTHRIVE Program Kicks Off

As part of the pivot to virtual, WBENC designs and implements WeTHRIVE. WeTHRIVE is tailored to meet WBEs where they are and support them through the COVID-19 pandemic, and beyond. Through the WBENC network of business leaders and industry experts, WBE participants evaluate the sustainability of their business, and the potential for the future and learn strategies to sustain their business in times of crisis.

The first cohort features 203 WBE graduates, 29 Corporate Member supporters and 23 WBE and Corporate Member instructors.

WBENCPitch Returns with WeInnoPITCH

A multi-round virtual innovation-pitch competition designed to highlight the most innovative business solutions across the WBENC network. The four live rounds featured 80 participants with the winner taking home $20,000.

WBENC Introduces Industry Match & Meets

Industry Match & Meets are the WBENC answer to providing a higher-touch, higher-value, boutique matchmaking experience for both Corporate Members and WBEs. Each of these virtual matchmaking events focuses on a specific industry to aid Corporate Members in identifying WBEs that are a potential fit to their current or upcoming sourcing needs.

The Women Owned Gift Guide Makes Holiday Shopping Easy

In the fall of 2020, to celebrate National Women’s Small Business Month, and kick holiday shopping into gear with a focus on supporting women-owned businesses, WBENC launches a large-scale #BuyWomenOwned campaign and publishes the first edition of the popular Women Owned Gift Guide, a magazine-style curated guide full of gifts from WBENC-Certified WBEs.

Energy Executive Program Goes Virtual with WBENC Energy Week

In response to the pandemic, the Energy Executive Program goes virtual. Energy Week featured exciting programing such as the State of the Industry and a WBEs in Energy Spotlight.

WBENC & the National Business Inclusion Consortium Join Forces for Unity Week

Uniting the nation’s leading business diversity organizations, the inaugural 2020 National Business Inclusion Consortium Unity Week is a unified week of rich programming, education, and celebration of diversity, opportunity, equity, and collaboration led jointly by NGLCC and WBENC and included these other NBIC members: Disability:IN, the National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA), the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc (USBC), the U.S. Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC), the U.S. Pan Asian American Chamber of Commerce (USPAAC), WEConnect International, and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP).

An NBIC Unity Week Pitch competition features a multi-round elevator pitch competition and special edition of WBENCPitch designed to highlight all women entrepreneurs certified by an approved third-party National Business Inclusion Consortium (NBIC) organization.

WBENC 2021: Focus on the Future Celebrating Women's History Month

WBENC celebrates Women’s History Month with a month of virtual programming featuring daily content and resources, weekly educational webinars, inspirational stories, and important conversations, as well as two special celebratory events showcasing the strength and resilience of our community.

The Student Entrepreneur Program Rebrands as the Collegiate Accelerator

Fostering growth for the Next Generation of Female Founders, the WBENC Collegiate Accelerator, is a premier startup program for collegiate female founders and recent graduates.



Women & Pride is Launched

Women & Pride launches as new WBENC outreach and development program designed to support and strengthen the community of LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and corporate professionals within the WBENC network and beyond.

WBENC 2021: Focus on the Future - Honoring the WBE Stars & America's Top Corporations for Women's Business Enterprises

WBENC hosts a month-long industry-focused virtual event to celebrate America’s Top Corporations and Women’s Business Enterprise Stars. The event features weekly insights from industry experts and WBE Stars, interactive industry think tanks, and the exploration of important trends and solutions.




Live Stream Views

WBENC Allyship Program is Unveiled

This new WBENC program re-imagines the future to cultivate inclusion in our network and focuses on the Black dimension of diversity to provide education and awareness so that we can all become better allies.

WBENC hosts WBENC 2021: Bridge to the Future

This exclusive 3-day boutique gathering in Miami, Florida is the first in-person event in two years and features WBE programming, new Corporate Member activations, face-to-face networking, and much more.

25th Anniversary Sponsors