As a certified woman-owned business, Retail Smarter regularly attends the annual WBENC National Conference — the largest event of its kind for women business owners and corporate executives. At the conference, attendees network and connect with other women business owners, supplier diversity professionals, and key representatives from strategic partner organizations that support women owned businesses.
The 2022 WBENC National Conference was held in Atlanta, Georgia from June 7-9. The WBENC Arena reimagined the traditional expo booth format, allowing exhibitors and attendees to flow easily between learning sessions, stage events, expo booths and round-table discussions with diversity leaders from major retailers, including Target, Home Depot, Walmart, and dozens of others. It truly was “a dynamic ecosystem of networking, education, connection and inspiration” (WBENC.com).
Why we like the new expo format
We loved the new format — and the new friends we made! (Of course, we also loved catching up with old friends and colleagues, too!) And we deeply appreciate the growing commitment we see from retailers to seriously engage with women and diverse-owned businesses as they regularly support and attend WBENC events.
Thanks to the WBENC leadership team and event organizers for a great show — we’re looking forward to Nashville in 2023!
Retailers want to work with WBEs
Retailers are eager to engage with diverse suppliers, but they won’t settle for lesser quality products or less-than-excellent execution. At Retail Smarter, we’re passionate about helping brands develop their retail sales, marketing, and supply chain readiness, so that they can turn opportunities like this into the retail distribution and sales growth they’re looking for.
How to become a WBENC-certified WBE
If you qualify, we recommend getting WBENC certified. It’s extremely helpful to major U.S. retailers, who often give women-owned businesses special consideration.
Here are the eligibility requirements from WBENC.org:
- Majority (at least 51%) ownership by one or more women
- Demonstrated proof of female management and control of business
- Unrestricted female control of the business in legal documents and day-to-day operations
- A woman holding the highest defined title in the company’s legal documents
- Documented evidence of female contribution of capital and/or industry expertise
- Status of U.S. Citizenship or Lawful Permanent Resident for woman owner(s) constituting majority ownership
Eligibility and the application process
Be prepared to provide the required documentation to establish eligibility. Proper documentation includes things like general business information, owner eligibility, financial structure, personnel and management information, and governance information. With documents in hand, you’ll use the online application at WBENCLink2.0 to submit your files and pay the application fee.
Regional Partner review
The application process includes a review and on-site audit of your business by your Regional Partner Organization (RPO), which is the local WBENC affiliate for your area. The RPO will verify your application is complete, review your documentation with a Certification Committee, and then plan a site visit with all women owners. The entire process usually takes about 90 days.
WBEs have access to a wide range of benefits, such as increased visibility, networking and mentorship opportunities, education and development programs, targeted business opportunities, and more. You’ll need to renew your certification every year with an online recertification, and by paying the annual recertification fee.
Maximizing retail opportunities
We’re a WBENC-certified business — and a team of retail CPG experts, so we have a lot of experience helping businesses become certified, and getting retailers to take notice. If you’d like help with this process, or any other aspect of your retail business, let’s talk. We offer services by the hour, by the project, or month-to-month.