Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Conference in Nashville, TN, where “Momentum” was the theme. With over 4000 attendees, it was the largest conference I’ve been to in quite some time, and the largest to date sponsored by WBENC. Since this was my first time, I didn’t know what to expect. In addition to women business owners, there were Fortune 1000 enterprises and government agencies seeking to do business with women entrepreneurs.
Two sessions offered “meet and greet” opportunities with corporations and government entities seeking women-owned suppliers. Each business owner at the table had three minutes to share our company mission, and corporate reps promised to take our information back to the right business unit.
Additional learning sessions covered topics on how to sell to the government, succession planning, how to get access to capital, leadership & growth, women entrepreneurs as drivers of change, and many more.
What did I learn from the conference?
1. Female entrepreneurship is alive and well in the U.S.
2. A collaborative environment benefitted all attending.
3. Answers to all types of business questions can be found among this group.
4. I gained a greater understanding of how the WBENC organization supports women-owned businesses.
5. I realized that women-owned businesses are championed by many of Living Abroad’s corporate clients.
6. New relationships formed within our regional NYC WBENC group.
7. Exposure to some new best practices was a valuable benefit.
8. I made lasting connections with fellow entrepreneurs, supplier diversity professionals and others.
It was very inspiring to hear about all the businesses created by women who are striving to provide excellence in their field and thriving in our economy despite the current slowdown.
How does this effect global mobility and our role in it? You need to go outside your industry for new ideas. I did not meet anyone that does what Living Abroad provides, but I can assure you that I came away with some new ideas to support our business, our clients, and the globally mobile individuals who access our information every single day. Between the innovative experiential learning opportunities and inspiring speakers and panels, business owners were provided with tools and resources to develop as leaders and changemakers.
We celebrated and recognized some of the nation’s most successful women-owned businesses and the corporations that are doing the most to level the playing field for women entrepreneurs. About 20 out of the 300+ corporations in attendance were inducted into the WBENC Hall of Fame, including Accenture, Bank of America, Chevron, ExxonMobil, EY, GM, IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Shell, UPS, and Walmart to name a few.
If you’re looking to do business with a women-owned enterprise and you’re already a member, you will have access to the directory. If not, go to the WBENC website and become a member. Your membership gives you access to the WBENC Directory of all women-owned businesses, where you can search for organizations that fit your supplier diversity requirements while providing the product or service you need.