As we wrap up the final days of the year, we are taking time to reflect on 2020, a year marked by immense challenge and uncertainty, but also incredible resiliency and innovation.
We reflect on the loved ones lost to the pandemic and the tragic events that spurred a movement for long overdue racial and social justice. We reflect on the business community, stretched to the limits of survival but pivoting and finding a path to survive and thrive. We reflect on our new virtual reality, the missed hugs and handshakes, our computer screen now a proxy for everything from kindergarten to happy hours, workout classes to webinars.
We know most people are ready to turn the page on 2020, but before we do, we want to pause to acknowledge the accomplishments of this difficult year and celebrate how the WBENC network truly lived up to its motto – Join Forces. Succeed Together.
Thank you for joining with us on this mission, for helping women-owned businesses and those who support them succeed in the most challenging of times. We wish you all a joyous holiday season and very happy and prosperous new year!
2020 Year in Review
- More than 1,200 women-owned businesses became certified in 2020, bringing our total number of WBEs to nearly 17,000.
- We welcomed more than 40 new Corporate & Government Members, a positive signal for a continued national investment in women-owned businesses as suppliers.
- In the height of the pandemic, we created a WBE Supplier list and helped connect WBEs with COVID-related PPE and other supplies with corporations on the front lines. We also stood up a COVID Resources Center on our website, curating and dispersing financial and other resources from regional and national partners, Corporate Members, the SBA, and other WBEs.
- Hundreds of WBEs from across the country participated in new virtual executive education programs, including the WBENC Executive Education Program sponsored by Wells Fargo, which helped WBEs gain traction in their business using the Entrepreneurial Operating System®, and WeTHRIVE, one of our most popular programs of the year, designed to help business owners not only survive the uncertainties of 2020, but grow and thrive in the future.
- With the support of Corporate Members, WBENC provided more than $100,000 in grants through a series of three virtual pitch competitions. Hundreds of WBEs across every industry honed their virtual pitch skills, gained meaningful exposure in video showcases, pitched their business to senior corporate leaders and decision makers, and competed for funds to invest in their business.
- We pivoted our Business Lab, Women of Color, and NextGen programs to virtual, providing even more opportunities to connect and learn. We also introduced several brand-new programs to engage, support, and grow our network, including bi-weekly WBENC Listens sessions, Industry Spotlight Series, Women Owned in Retail program, WBENC LIFT Financial Center of Excellence and Wells Fargo WBENC LIFT Grant, industry-focused MatchMaker sessions, WBENC Cummins Grant for Black Student Female Founders, WBENC General Mills Outreach & Development Program, and more.
- To celebrate National Women’s Small Business Month, and kick holiday shopping into gear with a focus on supporting women-owned businesses, we launched a largescale #BuyWomenOwned campaign and published the very popular Women Owned Gift Guide, a magazine-style curated guide full of gifts from WBENC-Certified WBEs.
- We came together with our fellow business diversity partners (and more than 2,000 registered attendees) for the very first NBIC Unity Week, an incredible celebration of diversity, opportunity, equity, and collaboration.
- Throughout the year, we continued to tell your stories on the blog and launched a new podcast showcasing inspiring WBEs called Women Who Own It.
And throughout it all, WBENC and our network of 14 Regional Partner Organizations continued to maintain our world-class certification standard, connect WBEs with Corporate & Government Members in meaningful ways, and provide opportunities and resources to spur growth.
We hope to continue that momentum into 2021 and remain excited about what the future may bring.