Community Resource Guide: Women Owned Business Certification

Understand the value of certification, encourage women to have the confidence to research the opportunity and empower them with specific resources to learn more. 

Why should a women business owner who has never considered certification take the time to learn more? In a nut shell, certification helps business owners make more money with fewer sales by conducting business with larger clients. Certification opens up opportunities to do business with corporations, government entities and more.

What industries should consider certification? Any product or service is appropriate for certification.  If you sell something that a corporation would buy, getting certified is a must.

Why should community partners and fellow women business owners encourage more women to consider certification? Women Business Owners + Certification = more opportunities and more wealth for women. Women owned businesses that are certified are more likely to break $1 million dollars in sales and break the entrepreneur gender gap by growing at the same rate as their male counterparts. Arizona has a significantly lower number of certified women owned businesses in comparison to other states with higher economic development numbers for female entrepreneurship.

There are a several certifications for women owned businesses and they are not all created equal! The main one we discuss is the WBENC certification.

The WBENC certification is accepted by hundreds of corporations within the country and a number of federal, state, and local government agencies. WBENC certification is an important marketing tool for expanding a company’s visibility. WBENC is also an approved Third Party Certifier for the United States Small Business Administration (SBA) Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program.

What exactly does it mean to be “a WBENC-Certified WBE”? WBENC certified WBEs use their certification credentials to gain access to WBENC corporate members, as well as a number of federal, state, and local government agencies. In addition, WBENC certified WBEs also gain access to over 10,000 other WBENC certified WBEs in order to purchase products or services and partner together for joint venture opportunities.

Are there size or length-of-time in business requirements for certifiable companies? No. There are no size or length-of-time in business requirements to apply for or obtain WBENC certification.

What is the fee for certification? The fee is based on your annual gross revenue.  The fee schedule is below:

Annual Gross Revenue Non-Refundable Processing  Fee
0 – $999k $350
$1m – $4.9m $500
$5m – $9.9m $750

What is the processing time for certification? The processing time is generally 90 days from the date all documentation has been received by the RPO.

What is the certification process? A brief summary of certification process is as follows:

  • A business entity submits an application along with the necessary supporting documentation, notarized sworn affidavit and non-refundable processing fee.
  • Each RPO has a trained Certification Review Committee that meets on a monthly basis.
  • An on-site visit is conducted at a pre-determined time with the majority woman business owner.
  • At a subsequent Certification Review Committee meeting following the site visit, a final determination is made regarding the applicant’s eligibility.


Can a woman and a man own the company jointly? Yes, a woman and a man can own the company jointly; however, the woman must be the majority owner (at least 51% ownership) and must demonstrate that her management and control of the company, her contribution of capital and/or expertise, and her assumption of all profits and risks are commensurated with her ownership percentage. A woman must also hold the highest office as outlined in the company’s documentation.

What is the difference between WBENC certification and my state’s certification?

A state certification, in most cases, is only good for doing business with that state’s government agencies. WBENC certification is primarily for companies that are targeting major corporations. However, WBENC certification is also recognized by some federal and local governments.

Is there someone locally that can help me with the WBENC application process?

Audrianna Scott

NAudrianna Scottew Certification Specialist

(480) 275-7940





If you want to learn more about other certifications or talk more generally about getting your business ready to do business with larger clients you can contact


Katie BoddyKatie Boddy, Business Analyst

Maricopa Small Business Development Center

(480) 857-5574



WBENC and SBDC are Empowered PhXX partners.

Women Owned Business Certification Simple Fact Sheet

WBENC and SBDC are Empowered PhXX partners.

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