Throughout Fiscal Year 2008, the members of the National Women’s Business Council collaborated to promote policies and programs designed to support women’s entrepreneurship. The Council’s activities over the past year focused primarily on communications and outreach, research, and policy engagement.
In reaching out to the women’s business community, policymakers and other target audiences, the Council held three town hall meetings, produced written and electronic communications, and participated in national and international events promoting women’s business ownership. In addition, the Council produced research reports, partnered in research events with other organizations and initiated a report on best practices in entrepreneurship education for women. Members of the Council and Council staff participated in several intergovernmental and organizational meetings. For the fifth year, the Council was called on by the International Council for Small Business to judge and support the Best Paper Award for Women’s Entrepreneurship.
Based on research conducted during the year, numerous discussions with the women’s business community at conferences, meetings and round tables, and comment letters filed regarding research and procurement, the National Women’s Business Council makes the following recommendations to the President, the U.S. Congress, and the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA):
- Increased support for outreach and marketing by the many government-sponsored programs that are designed to assist women business owners;
- Increased funding for government-supported entrepreneurial development centers like Women’s Business Centers, Small Business Development Centers, and SCORE;
- Evaluation of the SBA-backed lending programs to determine if they are meeting the needs of the small business owners for which they are intended;
- Monitoring of the federal government contracting process to ensure that the five percent procurement goal for women-owned businesses is met;
- Enforcement of subcontracting relationships by holding prime contractors accountable for fulfilling their agreements with subcontractors;
- Establishment of a clearinghouse for information on government contracting and subcontracting opportunities which may be designated for women owned businesses;
- Introduction of tax incentives to help small business owners provide health insurance or wellness programs and education and training for their workers, benefits which women business owners care deeply about; and
- Identification of successful workforce initiatives and best practices of large companies, particularly in the areas of health care, education and training for employees, and leadership, that can be adopted by small businesses.
This Annual Report summarizes these many activities, offers policy recommendations, and previews Council initiatives for the coming year. We invite public comment on our Annual Report, and on the research and other programmatic activities of the Council.