Dear WBEA and WBEA WBC Network,
We hope this letter finds you safe and well. We know that everyone has been impacted by COVID-19 and are facing uncertainty in your business and/or personal life. While the WBEA is not open to the public, we are open and committed to serving you with certification, WBEA Women’s Business Center (WBEA WBC) virtual services, resources, sourcing, procurement opportunities, educational programming, business consultations, and access to funding.
We have been working with our board of directors and corporate members to transition programs to a virtual setting. We know that your business needs are changing, and we must adapt to serve your new needs in a timely manner. We are prepared to serve in tandem with “unique” service delivery strategies on certification, sourcing, procurement & collaboration opportunities, and supplier development. We have been keeping a close eye on the progression of COVID-19 and have determined that the WBEA Business Conference & Matchmaking, our signature procurement event, scheduled for May 27-28, 2020 will be delivered in a hybrid or full virtual experience at a later date. We are working with the George R Brown Convention Center and our corporate partners to finalize the new date. At this time, we are holding space at the George R. Brown for September in addition to the possibility of having some elements of the conference held virtually as early as June.
We are focused on doing what we do best and stopped doing things that are not required in 2020.
We are BEST at Certification of Women-owned Businesses. In alignment with our Strategic Intentions, we are continuing to certify/recertify in an expedited manner while keeping all controls in place. In this effort, we have been awarded a $10,000 grant from Comerica Bank to fund the newly created WBEA COVID-19 Relief Fund. Comerica’s gift will afford us the opportunity provide financial assistance offsetting certification application fees for micro-enterprises. We are temporarily utilizing adaptations using technology that decreases the time for certifications while increasing the safety of all certification team members, volunteers, and WBEs in the process. We are working collaboratively with the full network to find resources that relate to COVID-19 business impacts, secure grants to help further assist the recovery for WBEs impacted by COVID-19 and enhance access to the WBENC certified WBEs who have COVID-19 offerings.
We are BEST at programming and collaboration. We have launched a series of virtual trainings occurring twice a week facilitating knowledge acquisition on teleworking management, continuity, cybersecurity, fiscal resources, business practices in a remote environment, strategies to reduce travel, social distancing, and social protocols that support business growth and safety in highly populated areas. We have re-vamped our email communications to include items that support a Healthy Mind, Body and Company and recently launched a survey of WBEs to gain a deeper perspective of needs and challenges. Our collaboration with Wallis Bank, LiftFund, Amegy Bank, Comerica, NOVA, TriNet, IRS and SBA has afforded the opportunity to get first-hand information about financial resources and compliance to our WBEs quickly while providing access to high level banking representatives ordinally unreachable.
We are continuing to field calls and provide virtual advising through our WBEA WBC and trainings related to SBA EIDL resources, Paycheck Protection Program Loan support, and strengthening banking relationships designed to get businesses thriving and sustainable during and after disaster and/or crisis and to mitigate economic effects of COVID-19. Additionally, the WBEA WBC is providing training for entrepreneurs and small businesses every week focused on business growth and scalability while assisting with loan applications and financial resiliency. We have created a resource page on our website with information regarding COVID-19 resources for business and personal under the “WBE Information” tab here. Further, we recently launched a survey of WBEs to gain a deeper perspective of needs and challenges.
There is a lot going on here during this historic time…and not all will be solved. I am confident that we, as a network, will walk away with what is key and be stronger. We are in this together. I am open and ready for what will be a unique business opportunity for “business unusual.”