Celebrating 20 Years Of Excellence


2017 marks the 20th anniversary of the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) and provides all of us with an opportunity to celebrate the organization’s historic achievements in women’s business development and look forward to what lies ahead.

WBENC, the largest third-party certifier of Women’s Business Enterprises (WBEs) in the United States, was formed in March 1997 when five women’s business development organizations met with several corporations in Dallas to create a national certification program that would address the barriers that women-owned businesses faced in the supply chain of major corporations.

Those five organizations were the Women’s Business Development Council – Chicago, Ohio Women’s Business Development Council, Women’s Business Development Center/Philadelphia, North Texas Women’s Business Council and the Women’s Business Council of Louisiana. Today, the organization’s base consists of 315 National Corporate Members and Government Agencies, 14 Regional Partner Organizations, and over 13,000 WBENC – certified WBEs.

WBENC’s mission today remains the same: “To fuel economic growth globally through access to opportunities, by identifying, certifying and facilitating development of women-owned businesses.”

Since its inception, there has been significant growth in the number of WBEs in the U.S. The 2015 State of Women – Owned Businesses Report commissioned by American Express OPEN, reported that between 1997 and 2015 there were an average of 608 net new women-owned businesses started each day.

Each year, the organization honors 14 exemplary women business leaders with its Women’s Business Enterprise Star award for excellence among WBEs. The awards are presented during WBENC’s annual Summit & Salute. The Summit is a two-day program “filled with a focus on the future of various industries, business networking and development opportunities.” The Salute follows the Summit and is a festive evening that highlights the country’s top corporations for WBEs.

WBENC’s main event is its annual National Conference & Business Fair, a three-day affair of nationally acclaimed speakers, workshops, and match making and networking opportunities.

The WBENC Business Fair is noted as the largest of its kind with more than 300 exhibitors. The conference is billed as the “largest and most prestigious gathering of corporate and government buyers” and WBEs in the nation and is designed to generate business opportunities and stimulate economic growth.

While looking back at the history of WBENC and it’s many accomplishments, it’s equally important to focus on the organization’s future. One of its most recent programs was designed specifically to promote “growth for the next generation of women-owned businesses.”

The WBENC Student Entrepreneur Program (WBENC SEP) was created in 2008 to provide mentoring to aspiring collegiate female entrepreneurs studying STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) or Business. In addition to learning from successful WBEs and Fortune 500 companies, the students also participate in a “tailored entrepreneurial curriculum, a pitch competition, awarding $10,000 in seed capital, and experiential learning through off-site visits to WBEs, corporate campuses, and accelerators.”

To date, more than 150 students from 50 colleges and universities across the country have graduated from SEP.

Join us as we celebrate the legacy of WBENC and applaud its investment in the next generation of Women’s Business Enterprises.

Get started by visiting wbenc.org Create your own journey, master an experience, clear challenges and honor the unexpected.


Women’s Business Enterprise National Council founded in Dallas

Susan Phillips Bari is appointed the organization’s first President and CEO

Susan Phillips Bari WBENC’s first President and CEO makes remarks
Susan Phillips Bari and Billie Bryant, First Women’s Enterprise Forum Chair CESCO, Inc.

Original corporate members:

Bank of America

Federated Department Stores, Inc.

(Macy’s Inc.)

Ford Motor Company



JCPenney Company



PepsiCo, Inc.

Texas Instruments



First WBENC WBE Stars

Diana Conley

ComputerLand Downers Grove


Wendy Lopez

Wendy Lopez & Associates, Inc.


Deborah Sawyer

Environmental Design International


Mary Kay Hamm

Linden International


Carroll Suggs

Petroleum Helicopters, Inc.

WBEC South

Lorraine Hallock

Delaire USA


Join us as we celebrate the legacy of WBENC and look back at some of the best moments in its history.


1st National Conference & Business Fair

Susan Phillips Bari and Glen Mayer of UPS present the first Applause Award to Carol Martin of Sears, Roebuck and Co.
Ribbon cutting to open the Business Fair
Bill Alcorn, WBENC’s first chair of the Board of Directors, speaks to attendees at the Business Fair
North Texas Women’s Business Council booth


A Change in Leadership and WBENC Celebrates 10 Years

Linda Denny becomes WBENC’s second President.

Denny has been credited with:

Increasing corporate membership and revenue growth

Enhanced internal and external communications

Advanced the vision for WBENC’s global reach

The 2007 America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises
The 2007 WBENC WBE Stars
Opening the Business Fair


Pamela Prince – Eason Takes the Reins

Pamela Prince-Eason, former Board chair and Vice President, Procurement, Pfizer, Inc., was appointed as third President and CEO of WBENC


Celebrating 15 Years

2012 America’s Top Corporations for Women’s Business Enterprises
Pamela Prince - Eason, WBENC President & CEO with Presidents Emeritus Susan Phillips Bari (left) and Linda Denny (right)
The 2012 WBENC WBE Stars


WBENC at 20 The Summit & Salute

A life - size collage of WBENC publications to celebrate 20 years
20 years of WBENC WBE Stars on stage
WBENC honors the WBENC Women of Distinction with their very own “Walk of Fame”
The WBENC staff celebrate with the audience on stage