Pitch Competition and Growth Program for Collegiate Female Founders

The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council Student Entrepreneur Program (WBENC SEP) is a premier startup program that fosters growth for the next generation of women-owned businesses. WBENC is proud to invest in the next generation of Women’s Business Enterprises through the support of WBENC Corporate and Government Members.





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Program Details

Aspiring collegiate female entrepreneurs receive mentoring from some of the most successful Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) 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 WBEs, corporate campuses, and accelerators.

Tailored Curriculum

WBENC SEP helps prepare student female founders to build and scale their businesses through a tailored educational curriculum, including sessions on leadership, marketing, finance, design thinking, and more.


The WBENC SEP Mentorship program seeks to enhance the experience of the students at the National Conference and Business Fair, assist students in their pitch competition preparation, and support the students as they look to successfully developing their business. WBENC SEP connects WBENC Corporate Members and WBENC-Certified WBE Mentors with selected WBENC SEP students.

SEP Student Showcase

WBENC SEP will provide an opportunity for students to showcase their businesses and products at the WBENC Business Fair. A dedicated Business Fair floor space will create a fun marketplace and experience for students to share their businesses with conference attendees.

Pitch Competition

The WBENC Pitch Competition is a two-round evaluation elevator pitch competition hosted at the WBENC National Conference & Business Fair awarding $20,000 in seed capital. The competition promotes women entrepreneurship and small business development by focusing on student created, managed, and owned ventures. Students pitch their businesses to a live audience and panel of judges who provide expert feedback.

So many incredible connections were made at WBENC that I don’t even know where to begin to describe the experience! There is nothing short of support from every individual you meet.
Kat Samardzija
Founder, Locker Lifestyle
This was a great opportunity to connect with like-minded women, socially responsible corporations, and more! I was able to learn how to better pitch my business and got feedback on next steps. I was also able to align myself with WBENC who like me, is invested in promoting diversity and innovation, opening doors for others and fueling the economy. Thank you WBENC and sponsors for this major opportunity!
Leyanis Diaz
Founder, Major Marketplace
This program was the best possible decision I could have made to further my business and personal growth. My expectations were blown away, and life-long connections were formed! I will be recommending SEP to everyone I can!
Shelby Baldwin
Founder, Rocketing Media
Who Should Apply

Applicant Eligibility

  • Student must be enrolled full time in an undergraduate or graduate program at a recognized College or University.
  • Applicants must be physically located in the United States at time of the program. WBENC SEP does not cover international travel costs.
  • Applicant must be an owner, founder, or controlling shareholder of a company that has been operating for at least 3 months but does not have to be generating revenue.

Preferred Qualifications

  • Preference will be given to U.S. citizens
  • Preference will be given to students studying or with a venture in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math)

Application Criteria

  • Written application, including an essay stating the desire to attend the program and how the program would enable you for future growth and success.
  • Resume
  • Letter of Recommendation from a faculty member or colleague.
  • One minute video elevator pitch about your venture

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.
How to Apply

WBENC SEP is not accepting applications at this time. Please check back for updates or contact us at wbencsep@wbenc.org with any questions.

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Tuition & Fees

Through the support of WBENC Corporate and Government Members, 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.

Participating Colleges & Universities

More than 100+ colleges and universities across the U.S. have helped identify prospective students for SEP. Join us!  Contact us at wbencsep@wbenc.org for details on how you can get involved.

Become a Mentor

The WBENC SEP Mentorship program connects WBENC Certified WBEs and Corporate Members with the next generation of female entrepreneurs. Partaking in this notable program means you assist in accelerating the development of influential young female founders while networking with distinguished industry leaders.

WBE and Corporate Mentors utilize their industry expertise to provide value to students by advising them on pitch competition preparation, networking at the National Conference & Business Fair, and providing them with ongoing support as students build profitable and sustainable businesses.

Mentorship Requirements


  • Mentor assists student prepare for pitch competition prior to conference


  • Mentor is invited to attends some classes/programs with the student
  • Mentor introduces student to WBEs and corporate contacts throughout the event (if Mentor has a booth, offers opportunity to participate during the Business Fair)
  • Mentor allows student to shadow during the Business Fair
  • Mentor, if space is available, invites student to sit at designated table during meal functions
  • Mentor serves as a resource for student preparing for pitch competition: answers questions during conference and listens to and supports a mock presentation by student prior to pitch competition


  • Mentor will actively engage their network to assist student following the program to support the student as they work to launch their business.

Contact us at wbencsep@wbenc.org for details on how you can get involved.