Woman in black dress and sunglasses standing to the right of a sign with the letters WVBEOY and logos in Baltimore's Inner Harbor.

This week, the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) is in Baltimore city for their annual National Conference and Business Fair. The event is a chance for women business owners and entrepreneurs to connect with each other, grow their ventures, and thrive. The three-day event ”features innovative educational programming, inspiring keynotes, 1:1 MatchMaker sessions, networking opportunities, and an unrivaled Business Fair.” Applied Development is proud to be a WBENC-certified Women-Owned Business. This year at the event, we are also thrilled to announce that we have been selected as a finalist for the Women’s Veteran’s Business Enterprise of the Year.

The award is co-sponsored by the National Veteran-Owned Business Association (NaVOBA) and WBENC. Every year, they select finalists and winners from “an elite selection of women from the nation’s 3 million U.S. military veteran business owners.” 

NaVOBA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization led by Corporate Supplier Diversity professionals. The organization’s mission is to, “create corporate contracting opportunities for America’s Veteran’s and Service-Disabled Veteran’s Business Enterprises (VBEs/SDVBEs) through certification, advocacy, outreach, recognition and education.” The certification veteran-owned businesses receive through NaVOBA creates a nationally-recognized standard, which allows government and corporations to “proactively source and confidently utilize businesses that are at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by U.S. military veterans,” according to NaVOBA

Our CEO Kimberly Citizen started her career in the U.S. Army, where she received numerous awards and citations for her service. Like many veterans, she encountered setbacks on her way from the Army to the civilian workforce. Although veteran unemployment is declining, so is veteran entrepreneurship. Organizations like NaVOBA encourage veteran-owned entrepreneurship and business, which can lead to more employment for veterans and more veteran-friendly workplaces. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides programs and training for veterans and female veterans

Currently, 2.4 million veteran-owned businesses make over $1.2 trillion in sales a year according to the SBA. However, only 100,000 of those businesses are also owned by women. This means our companies are a minority within a minority, but can offer a lot to the world of business. Our service taught us tenacity, team management, and how to work in a predominantly male industry. 

Yesterday, we had the chance to get to know other women veteran business owners. We attended a reception for other finalists, with NaVOBA Corporate Allies and members of WBENC’s Board of Directors in attendance. In addition to the celebration of amazing veteran women business owners, we met many people who want to help our businesses grow.

In addition to being an Economically Disadvantaged Women Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) and a Service Disabled Veteran Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), Applied Development is a U.S. Small Business Administration 8(a) certified business and a Historically Underutilized Business Zone (HUBZone) small business.