During Women’s History Month and throughout the year, we recognize the awe-inspiring, pivotal contributions of women and their impact via business and entrepreneurial developments in society.

The quantum leap into pro-women in the workplace only occurred a little over sixty years ago. World War II was a defining moment as women prepared themselves to operate machinery, work on assembly lines, and fulfill roles enlisted men previously occupied. Household mothers became secretaries, teachers, managers; women found entrepreneurship absolute. The nation showcased the innovation of women during this time, increasing the presence of intelligent, competent, and resilient women among the masses. Here commenced the women empowerment movement, acknowledging the innovators of their time: accredited by the Nobel Committee, building empires, and receiving recognition from Forbes to Fortune – women began to rise to the top and pave their own path. (History.com)

The beginnings of WBENC 25 years ago are intertwined with what women throughout our country and the world had been advocating for. We are proud that the history and milestones through WBENC, our WBEs and our Corporate Members and their Supplier Diversity programs are part of women’s history. Our network inspires women to execute their business goals and create opportunities through connections and support.

Our Women’s Entrepreneurship & Supplier Diversity Leadership Timeline celebrates the milestones in the history of WBENC: 

  • 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.
  • 2000: 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) 

  • 2004: 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.
  • 2007: 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.
  • 2009: The First William J. Alcorn Leadership Award is Presented to Barbara Carbone, WBENC Board Chair and Audit Director from 1998 to 2019. 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).
  • 2010: 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.
  • 2012: WBENC partners with Shell USA 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, and featuring a pitch competition to assist young entrepreneurs to articulate their business goals.
  • 2014: 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.

  •  2017: 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. 
  • 2019: First ever Collaboration Award is Presented to Four Energy Companies: BP America Inc., Chevron, ExxonMobil Corporation, and Shell USA

  • 2021: 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. 

  • 2022: The 25th Anniversary of WBENC – Throughout 2022 we are celebrating 25 years of women’s entrepreneurship and leadership, through events, programs, content and at our WBENC National Conference in Atlanta, GA, in June 2022.

WBENC celebrates Women’s History Month by acknowledging all of the efforts by women, and their advocates, throughout history. We also celebrate the space we’ve created for women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive. By getting involved in our events and programs, we fill the gaps with knowledge and information needed to succeed for women-owned businesses.  

WBENC amplifies women’s voices by facilitating the networking and connections for women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs via digital and in-person programs. With more than 18,000 women-owned enterprises achieving WBENC Certification, we’ve created milestones of our own and continue to contribute to women’s history in the areas we impact. 

Join us! Here are some ways to get involved and celebrate Women’s History Month with WBENC.  

1. Innovate with WBENC: Discover | March Virtual Series

Join WBENC this March for a weekly series focused on opportunities for innovation with four of the WBENC industry groups. Each week features one industry’s unique innovation priorities. Leaders from the industry will present key challenges and trends to help WBEs discover innovation opportunities as part of the Innovate with WBENC program. Industry leaders will lay the groundwork by providing foundational knowledge of their industry’s needs, priorities, and future direction. Learn more.  

2. Women of Color | The Great Resignation Era: Effectively Managing Your Business While Leading Employees 

Join WBENC for our March  Women of Color Virtual Event on International Women’s Day. This national trend in labor shortages, commonly referred to as The Great Resignation, is affecting more industries daily. In fact, it’s not really a labor shortage in the traditional sense, but a unique reconceptualization of work by the average person across all sectors. Register now.  

3. Regional Partner Organizations | Virtual Events throughout March and all year long

WBENC works with 14 Regional Partner Organizations (RPOs) to administer our world-class certification across the United States. From WBEC’s East Fastrac Series to WBEC West’s Learning the Ins & Outs of Certification, our RPOs provide a plethora of virtual events to be a part of. View our March 2022 Calendar to learn more about the opportunities that await you!