Certification FAQ

  • What is a WBE? +

    WBE (Women's Business Enterprise) is an independent business concern that is at least 51% owned and controlled by one or more women who are U.S. citizens or Legal Resident Aliens; whose business formation and principal place of business are in the US or its territories; and whose management and daily operation is controlled by one or more of the women owners.
  • What exactly does it mean to be "certified as a WBE"? +

    Being certified as a WBE means that a business concern has gone through a rigorous and stringent certification process to confirm the business is owned, managed, and controlled by a woman or women.
  • What is WBENC and how is that different from my local/regional affiliate? +

    WBENC is the Women's Business Enterprise National Council and is comprised of 14 regional partner organizations. All of the partner organizations adhere to WBENC's stringent Standards and Procedures in their certification programs.
  • How does a WBENC certification differ from others? +

    The Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is the nation's leading third-party certifier of women's business enterprises (WBEs) for the private sector. In partnership with women's business organizations like the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council throughout the United States, WBENC provides access to a national standard of certification and provides information on certified women's businesses to purchasing managers through its Internet database, WBENCLink. WBENC certification is recognized and accepted by the majority of the major corporations across the U.S.
  • Is the size or length of time in business a requirement for certifiable companies? +

    There are no size or time requirements for WBENC certification.
  • What is the processing time for certification? +

    The processing time is generally 60-90 days once all documentation has been received by the Regional Partner Organization.
  • What is involved in the certification process? +

    The certification process is as follows: A business entity submits an application, along with the necessary supporting documentation and non-refundable processing fee. Great Lakes WBC has a trained Certification Committee that meets on a monthly basis. Once the applicant's file is complete (meaning all documentation pertinent to the business and legal structure has been received), it will go to the Committee for review. An on-site visit is conducted, generally during the 30-day window between Committee meetings. At the meeting following the site visit, a final recommendation is made regarding the applicant's eligibility. If certification is granted, the company's assigned contract will receive an auto-email telling them that they have been certified and may now access their certificate online. A formal letter will also be mailed.
  • Why do I have to supply my company's financial information? +

    Financial documents, such as the Profit & Loss Statement, provide evidence that the applicant is conducting the business as describing in the application. Documents such as the Balance Sheet and tax returns are used collectively to verify the ownership, management, and control by the women owners. Please note that the certification process does not evaluate the company's profitability or financial viability.
  • What if I don't have a document that is required? +

    Great Lakes WBC realizes that you may not have all the documentation we request. Should that be the case, please submit a letter with your documentation stating which documents do not exist and why.
  • What if my bank won't give me a copy of my signature card? +

    In place of the bank signature card, a letter may be sent from your bank officer on the bank's letterhead informing us of the authorized signatures on the bank account(s) and any stipulations placed on the account(s), e.g., two signatures required on all checks.
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Success Story

Business Name: Compass Commerical

Owners: Lynn Drake


Lynn Drake, President of Compass Commercial is certain of what her “true north” is for business. It is to exclusively represent tenants and buyers of commercial real estate and not landlords. Lynn Drake has a reputation built on twenty years of commercial real estate experience. Thus far in her career, Lynn has successfully completed over 2,000 real estate transactions ranging from small business tenant leases to the sale and purchase of industrial complexes.

Lynn understands the value of professional development and makes sure to sharpen her skills each year. Her favorite and most impactful training is the Women’s Business Center’s Leadership Institute for Women. This one-day executive education program provides women business owners with the leadership skills to navigate a successful business in the 21st Century. As markets continue to evolve and change, to remain competitive, a woman business owner must develop and implement a strategy to guide them through the changing dynamics of an increasing competitive market. Drake learned how to work with big companies and how to answer their request for proposals. She usually focused in on small business owners as clients, but began to realize that she was holding herself back from bigger deals. Lynn was highly influenced by presenter, Michelle Kantor, an attorney who shared tips and suggestions on how to create contract teaming and joint venture agreements. Kantor stress that if you are going to team with another company, make sure you get the right cut of the deal.

Drake has attended the last four Leadership Institute for Women and she credits her training in landing her biggest contract, which is with the real estate division of the State of Michigan. “Had I not gone to the Leadership Institute for Women, there would be no way of winning the State of Michigan contract, says Drake.” I can count on quality speakers and relevant subjects from the Women Business Center at the Great Lakes Women’s Business Council.

Loan Application

Download the application package to start the process

Loan Orientations