The Women’s Business Enterprise Council (WBENC) first launched the Women of Color Program in 2017 to create an effective and successful business ecosystem designed to engage, advise and drive the growth of women of color women-owned businesses.
Since then, hundreds of women entrepreneurs have attended in-person sessions at WBENC national events, designed to address the challenges faced by many women of color business owners and provide resources and programming to address those challenges.
As an outreach and development program, the WBENC Women of Color (WOC) program is open to all women business owners—both WBENC-Certified Women’s Business Enterprises and those not yet certified.
“The growth of women of color-owned businesses and creating an ecosystem that serves as a Sister Circle for businesswomen is my main focus. To drive and connect the growth of inclusive entrepreneurship and economic development for the Women of Color Community has been a lifelong passion,” says Jade Melvin, Senior Manager of Strategic Programs at WBENC.
“We are thrilled to invest in the development of women of color entrepreneurs to advance this dynamic segment of the women-owned businesses landscape,” says Pamela Prince-Eason, President & CEO of WBENC.
Confronting Challenges with Solutions
The WBENC Women of Color Program is cultivating a business ecosystem for women of color through seven program pillars:
- Community Building: WOC is a tight-knit community, sharing resources for accelerating growth, strategizing to overcome problems, and meeting new customers.
- Market Access: WOC identifies and leverages regional network areas that focus on the advancement and development of WOC businesses and connects them to the WOC community.
- Resources: WOC provides support throughout the year with resources in education, support, leadership development, mentorship and provides materials to help strengthen and enhance WOC businesses’ capacity for doing business with corporations.
- Human Capital: WOC empowers and advances women-owned businesses by providing education, inspirational speakers, facilitators, consulting, trainings, subject experts, coaches and more, for aspiring WOC leaders. The program also connects women of color entrepreneurs to pipelines of talent and emphasizes the importance of developing their teams as their most valuable asset.
- Innovation: WOC facilitates innovation and growth by building bridges with the next generation of women-led firms and entrepreneurs through partnerships with universities and the WBENC NextGen Program.
- Policy: WOC partners with government advocacy organizations including Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) to promote federal legislative priorities that are necessary for sustained women-owned business success.
- Capital: WOC researches and communicates access to capital programs and other outside resources and opportunities for women entrepreneurs to the network on a regular basis.
How to Get Involved
WBENC is expanding the Women of Color program to include opportunities throughout the year, including introduction of the Women of Color City Tour, a premier networking event for women of color business owners interested in doing business with corporations and/or government entities. Learn more at wbenc.org/WOC
WBENC is the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States and has a mission to fuel economic growth globally by identifying, certifying, and facilitating the development of women-owned businesses. WBENC partners with 14 Regional Partner Organizations (RPOs) to provide its world-class standard of certification to women-owned businesses throughout the country. WBENC is also the nation’s leading advocate of women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs. Throughout the year, WBENC provides business development opportunities for member corporations, government agencies and close to 16,000 certified women-owned businesses at events and other forums. Learn more at wbenc.org.