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Community in Action

Women’s Business Council-Southwest welcomes all women business owners

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by Melissa Lowery

Despite the dramatic changes in business and technology in the past two decades, Women’s Business Council-Southwest has maintained a laser focus on their core mission: to facilitate mutually beneficial procurement opportunities among Women’s Business Enterprises (WBE) and Sustaining (Corporate) Members.

That means all women-owned business, stresses Debbie Hurst, president of WBCS. “Our mission hasn’t changed in 20 years,” she says. “It has always been to help WBEs access and fully contribute to the economy.”

In recent years, WBCS expanded their focus in recognition that women business owners who are part of other communities – women of color, LGBT women – face additional challenges.

“We know that those businesses that are women-owned have more issues with access to capital, for example,” Hurst said. “That’s magnified even more for women of color and LGBT women. Through the lens of intersectionality, we are reaching out and trying to help level the playing field.”

WBCS is one of fourteen regional affiliates of WBENC – the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council – the country’s largest third-party certification entity for women-owned businesses. The council serves north and central Texas, Arkansas, Oklahoma and New Mexico. If a women-owned business is headquartered within this four-state region, WBCS is responsible for facilitating their certification.

As part of the mission to reach more women business owners, WBCS frequently collaborates with the North Texas GLBT Chamber of Commerce. The organizations work together to address issues that affect both women-owned and LGBT-owned businesses. They also unite for development and networking opportunities.

Dual certification can be valuable leverage for business success, Hurst said. Joining the local WBENC affiliate and achieving women-owned certification provides LGBT women entrepreneurs access to a vast network of WBEs.

“LGBT women have an opportunity for two kinds of certification, like women of color do,” she said. “I always recommend that if it works for their business and they can devote some time and energy to both of those certifications, it’s really good to get both because it expands your network even more.”

Hurst noted that having both certifications also makes a WBE/LGBTBE more marketable to potential customers.

“When a corporation has a diverse spend goal that might be lacking – MBE is solid, WBE is lagging – then they can count you,” she said. “Even if it’s not a matter of being counted against a particular goal, it is opening up your opportunity to network with different decision makers within the corporations.”

No matter whether a woman entrepreneur is certified as a WBE, an LGBTBE or both, Hurst encourages women business owners to make the most of their certification(s).

“The certification is valuable, but it’s of limited value if you just put it in a drawer and don’t market it,” Hurst said. “Come get involved – there are so many opportunities to network and learn about opportunities with corporations and other women business owners. Ask questions! We’ll be happy to help answer questions about what’s the same, what’s different and why this is valuable to you.”

To learn more about WBCS and becoming a certified WBE, visit http://wbcsouthwest.org.

Business Equality Pride (BEQPride) is the first publication from the BEQ family of national print and digital magazines exclusively addressing the needs of LGBTQ small-to-medium sized businesses, entrepreneurs and professionals.