Virtual Public Meeting – September 14, 2022

NWBC Virtual Public Meeting will be held on September 14th from 12:30 - 2:30 EDT.

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is holding a virtual public meeting on September 14th via Zoom from 12:30-2:30 PM EDT. The meeting will provide Council Members the opportunity to recap engagements from the past year and deliberate policy recommendations before a public audience. If you’re interested, you can register and submit comments on the event’s Eventbrite page. You can also submit comments by emailing info@nwbc.gov. All comments must be submitted before September 6th. Hope to see you there!


Virtual Public Meeting – May 3, 2022

The National Women’s Business Council hosted a public meeting on May 3, 2022 at 12:30 PM EDT

Public Meeting Recap

Date: May 3, 2022

Time:  12:30 PM – 2:30 PM EDT

Where: Virtual, ZOOM

Welcome & Opening Remarks

  • NWBC Executive Director/Designated Federal Officer (DFO) Tené Dolphin called the meeting to order at 12:33 p.m. EDT.
  • NWBC Executive Director/Designated Federal Officer (DFO) Tené Dolphin welcomed Council Members, presenters and the public to the meeting and delivered opening remarks.
    • Executive Director Dolphin recognized National Small Business Week: “Happy National Small Business Week. Women business owners have continued to demonstrate that they are resilient. They have triumphed over adversity before and are doing that once again. NWBC continues to ask the hard questions—to spearhead the research, and share impactful programmatic and policy recommendations that help make the entrepreneurial journey more inclusive and more equitable.”
    • She also highlighted the 2021 Annual Report, which includes a summary of the Council’s digital and social media engagement, features an overview of NWBC’s interagency agreement with the U.S. Census Bureau, and presents this Council’s priorities and policy recommendations.
    • She also acknowledged and highlighted:
      • The Access to Capital and Opportunity roundtable convened on February 4th, 2022 where key stakeholders discussed the barriers BIPOC women business owners face to gain equitable financing.
      • SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership Women’s Summit which took place during Women’s History Month
    • She then presented NWBC’s three new Council Members:
      • Jaime Gloshay, Co-Director of Native Women Lead (NWL)
      • Roberta McCullough, Chair of the Board of the Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) and Senior VP of the National Institute of Minority Economic Development
      • Dr. Shakenna Williams, Executive Director for the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL) at Babson College
    • This Federal Advisory Council is housed within the Small Business Administration and provides advice and counsel to the President, Congress and SBA Administrator on issues deemed important to women business owners and entrepreneurs.
    • Noted this meeting is public:
      • It was appropriately noticed on the Federal Register.
      • All meeting materials and public comments received prior to this meeting and during the meeting, will be made available for public inspection as well as prepared minutes recapping the discussion which will be made available to the public within 90 calendar days
      • In addition to receiving critical updates from SBA leadership and officials, Executive Director Dolphin commented that the purpose of today’s meeting is to update the Council’s deliberations and work over the past year, which will eventually result in a set of policy recommendations to be voted during the next public meeting in late September and formally presented to the President, Congress, and the SBA Administrator in an Annual Report.
  • Roll Call was taken. The following Council Members were in attendance:
    • Rebecca Hamilton
    • Maria Rios
    • Roberta McCullough
    • Jaime Gloshay
    • Dr. Shakenna Williams
  • Executive Director Dolphin made some administrative announcements and then transitioned to national experts.

Introductions & Start of Presentations

  • NWBC Executive Director Dolphin introduced Senior Policy Advisor Sandra Mayoral Pedroarias who currently helps lead the development of the annual policy recommendations. She delivered brief opening remarks and introduced guest speakers:
    • Pam Prince-Eason, President & CEO, Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC
    • Candace Waterman, President & CEO, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)
    • Karen Bennetts, Chair-Elect, National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and Founder of Little Red Bird.
  • Sandra Pedroarias turned over the discussion first to Candace Waterman.
  • Candance Waterman’s presentation key takeaways:
    • Thanked Executive Director Dolphin and the NWBC team for their leadership and welcomed members and guests.
    • Overview of WIPP
      • “[A] … national nonpartisan organization on Capitol Hill for women in business representing the over 12.9 million women on businesses to ensure that you not only have a seat at the table, but you have your voice at that table and that you understand your voice at that table.”
      • The ACE Principle
        • A WIPP Member value – Advocacy, Community, Education.
        • Ensures success and sustainability in business
      • Policy Priorities
        • Create equity, equality, and parity for WOSBs in federal contracting
          • “… we know that is where real sustainability occurs for our businesses. You know, it took us two decades to ensure that we have a formal program, and I am excited to say that we were able to have impact on those discussions and … influence in the infrastructure program…”
        • Increase capital for women-owned businesses
          • “…we know that access to capital is not just our gateway to starting businesses but certainly to growing our businesses […] we have to ensure that we’re advocating for [it] daily…”
        • Rethink workplace development
          • “We are talking health care, child tax credits, the gig economy, all those layers that really impact women-owned businesses across the country as they are employing their team members providing health benefits. So, we want to ensure at the end of the day that the playing field is level for women in business from a 360 perspective.”
        • Broadband and infrastructure improvements
          • “…We need access to each other so broadband access and affordability is critically important to our women business owners in all corners of the country, including the rural areas.”
        • Demystify global economics
          • “…We have to be abreast of what is going on from a supply chain perspective. We have to look at those policies that are impeding us in many ways along with that would be tariffs and certainly compliance so we work very hard to ensure again that any policy that can impact women businesses…”
    • Ms. Waterman explained the dual role/intersectionality that exists in business: Business and Advocacy.
      • Policy enacted each day affects how you run any business, making it critical to be an advocate within your own business, creating that duality.
        • “… it is critical to understanding your industry so that you know where you fit in. Are you able to do direct work with your corporations or the government or should that be indirect where you seek out a tier-two opportunity…”?
        • Make your company recession-proof by investing time in private and public sector opportunities.
        • Develop relationships, as people build best with people they know.
        • Your voice is invaluable, making networking/advocacy… “where sustainable change occurs for businesses across the country.”
        • Become familiar with the policy makers in your area.
        • Get involved and stay connected.
          • “Write, call, meet, spend time at your policy maker’s office, go meet with them.”
          • “The way that they know how to help businesses is to have real life information and understand the challenges that you are experiencing, but also tell them where they’ve done things right if they’ve made policy, supported policy that has assisted your businesses and being successful”.
    • Ms. Waterman also highlighted WIPPs upcoming events, including the organization’s participation at the WBENC conference in Atlanta, Georgia on June 7th through the 9th 2022. “Meet us at WBENC – Booth 501!” She also shared engagement options with WIPP via social media in her closing remarks.
      • “Don’t forget to join your voice with ours here at WIPP.”
  • Pam Prince-Eason’s presentation key take aways:
    • She first provided an overview of WBENC:       
      • WBENC’s mission is to “…fuel economic growth globally through access to opportunities, by identifying, certifying, and facilitating development of women-owned businesses.”
      • Like WIPP’s ACE values, WBENC’s CORE Platform consists of:
        • Certification
        • Opportunities
        • Resources
        • Engagement
      • WBENC Community: 18,000 + Women Owned Businesses certified with WBENC, 487 corporate members, 14 regional partner organizations, 1 national partner organization.
    • Prince-Eason emphasized the national network and events that are supported by corporate partners and the federal government.
    • Prince-Eason delved into the opportunities and programs led by WBENC:
      • WBENC programs for executive education (We Ignite, WBENC Lift, Women In Technology, etc.), to hone skills on leadership and methods of growth.
      • WBENC projects for networking & engagement (Women & PRIDE, Women Owned in Retail, etc.), open to all women business owners. Attendees of events do not need to have a WBENC-Certified company.
      • WBENC initiatives for pitch opportunities (WBENC Pitch, Collegiate Accelerator, etc.), which awards grant money in tournament-style pitch competitions, and student accelerator programs fostering next-gen women entrepreneurs.
        • “… we are taking a very specific action to ensure that the unique challenges for our women of color are looked at specifically for our black women for our Indian women for our Hispanic women etc. So each of those breakdowns we ensure that not only we address women of color in general, which is important, but more specifically the unique challenges faced…”.
    • Prince-Eason gave closing remarks, and reflected on transparency, that which is needed in this industry.
  • Karen Bennetts’ presentation key takeaways:
    • Bennetts first shared NAWBO’s mission and vision, which compels women to be propelled to the political, economic, and social spheres of power of national and international stages.
      • Bolstering economic development
      • Building strategic alliances
      • Influencing opinion makers and public policy
      • “… what’s really important to our organization and what we build our programs and our initiatives around … just a couple of … examples range from our Launch Right program, which is a program we’re working on with our partner at Wells Fargo. It’s a startup program for women who are exiting the workforce in rural regions […] and marginalized socio-economic communities.”
    • NAWBO rigorously seeks to fully represent the full diversity of women business owners and “… equitably expand access to leadership.”.
    • NAWBO has aided in passing H.R. 5050, making its advocacy for women in business a priority. Utilizing a bipartisan approach allows women business owners on either end of the political scale to have a uniform voice.
    • She also provided an overview of the 2022 Advocacy Agenda:
      • Addressing the needs of “microbusinesses” and encouraging emerging entrepreneurs
      • Addressing the “Hiring Squeeze”
      • Implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act: Broadband Expansion
      • Accessing Capital through Increased Financial Literacy Education
    • Bennetts then delved into strategic planning for what is next after H.R. 5050
      • Creating a Network of Financial Professionals
        • “…women business owners would benefit from increased opportunities to learn about the importance of investing money into their businesses to grow and scale,” noting how critically important financial education is in this regard.
        • Ms. Bennetts also cited a NAWBO survey noting that close to 70% of its participating members save for retirement but only just over 50% have a succession plan in place.
      • The importance of WBOs investing in themselves and in their businesses to expand the business.
      • And the organization requesting that Congress define and codify “Microbusiness” to be used by all federal agencies.
        • The differentiation between microbusiness and small business permits the increased access to capital and procurement opportunities.
    • Karen Bennetts closed by thanking NWBC before passing on the floor to Executive Director Dolphin.
  • Executive Director Dolphin then introduced guest presenter Dr. Adji Fatou Diagne, who serves as a research economist at the Center for Economic Studies for the U.S. Census Bureau.
    • Dr. Fatou Diagne has played an integral role in the survey life cycle from data collection to data dissemination in regard to non-employer business statistics demographics data.
    • She also received MA and PhD from the Howard University, and BA from Spelman College.
  • Dr. Adji Fatou Diagne delivered a presentation entitled “The State of Women’s Entrepreneurship: By the Numbers”. Below are some of the notable datapoints shared:
    • Entrepreneurs are responsible for economic growth in all sectors of the economy, and women contribute significantly with respect to both employer and non-employer owned businesses.
      • Despite this, WBOs tend to be smaller companies and generate less revenue.
        • “…about 20.5 percent of women owned employer businesses had sales of one million dollars or more compared to 30.7 percent for the men.”
      • There continues to be differentiation based on race, as “…employer businesses are more likely to be non-Hispanic white and Asian-owned with 75.4 percent and 13.8 percent employer businesses respectively, versus 64.6 percent and 7.9 percent non-employee ones respectively Hispanic, black, African American businesses tend to not have paid employees.”
    • Additionally, WBOs are heavily concentrated in industries such as healthcare (14.5%), professional and scientific services (14.3%) and accommodation and food services (3.3%).
      • The catastrophic impact of the pandemic on women entrepreneurship proved to be substantial, as “… women made up 74.8 percent of workers in education and health services in 2019 but represented the lion’s share of these job losses in that sector at 78.8 percent”.
    • From the 2021 Annual Business Survey, 38.3% of women business owners reported that “total sales decreased significantly” while only 31.3% of men reported this.
    • When accessing capital, 62.3 of women reported seeking financing to meet operating expenses versus 54.6 for men.
      • “These figures are in line with previous research finding that women sort of seek capital to expand businesses less compared to men. Despite their size and revenues women entrepreneurship’s growth potential is significant”.
    • Dr. Fatou Diagne closed out by noting that the “future looks bright” with said figures. Plenty of work is being done in favor of WBOs and growth rates continue to rise.

Public Comments & Q&A

  • Executive Director Dolphin introduced Council Member Maria Rios who presented selected public comments.
    • The first comment Clara Paciuete, was from business owner of SimplValue and Araf, owner of the Simple Value and Arra Forre from Country Sales.
      • Arra Forre: “Greetings! Thanks for this wonderful info. I am looking into how to get funding and help for my small business. Any help is greatly appreciated.”
      • Clara Paciuete: “Regarding small business funding for women business owners with no capital or credit, how can women get ahead without starting capital or federal state support?”
        • Answer from Maria Rios: “Thank you Clara and Araf for your comments and questions. Equitable financing issues are a top priority for this Council, and we remain laser-focused on how to ensure we level the playing field for more women founders and business owners. That said, for women business owners just starting out, please be aware that a good place to start might be the SBA’s microloan program which provides $50,000 or less to help a business startup or even expand and grow it. There are also other SBA loan guarantee programs, including the agency flagship 7(a) loan program and the 504 long-term fixed rate financing loan to help you purchase or repair real estate, equipment, machinery or other companies’ assets. There are even loans for exporters and the SBA Lender Match tool to help you connect to potential SBA lenders. All that information is available at www.sba.gov
    • The next comment comes from Leslie Aaron from Pleasant Renewal:
      • Leslie Aaron: “Women need vacation time because they are often juggling two jobs, family life, and entrepreneurial opportunities or career outside the home. Placing value on women sends a positive message.”
        • Answer from Maria Rios: “Absolutely Leslie. Generally speaking, women entrepreneurs do tend to handle so much, juggling both business and domestic concerns. In fact, the onset on the pandemic has revealed long-standing inequities and imbalances, not only in terms of lack of equitable access to capital, but also lack of affordable and reliable access to child or other home care options. There is certainly an imbalance in domestic responsibilities that creates a significant barrier to entrepreneurship and costs women more, in terms of assessing capital, opportunities for contracting and building wealth. As well as in terms of self-care and both personal and professional development in recent years the Council has explored how lack of access to affordable and reliable childcare especially in childcare deserts has created a barrier to entrepreneurship. This year we have also started exploring how a lack of paid family and medical leave options for both workers and women entrepreneurs creates barriers to small business and overall economic growth. So, I will agree that placing value on female talent, time, and potential does send a positive message, but impactful policy change can also help American small businesses and our whole national economy. I for one look forward to working with my fellow council members to bring this sort of change about. Thank you.”
    • The final comment comes from Harmeet Kholi, President of Bhagwanti Management Inc.
      • Harmeet Kholi: “I am a minority small businesswoman running gas stations in a male dominated field. Need some help with resources and to build my own confidence.”
        • Answer from Maria Rios: “That is incredible Harmeet, congratulations! I understand you very well and I feel you. I built a business from the ground up in a male dominated industry, and I understand just how challenging that can be. I currently serve as the President and CEO of Nation Waste Inc. (NWI) and I’m proud to share that NWI is [the first] fully certified multi-million dollar female Hispanic-owned waste removal company in the United States history and one of the largest minority-owned companies in the state of Texas. We are a fully certified commercial disposal company specializing in construction, demolition, commercial industrial not hazardous waste removal portable toilet recycling services…”
        • “I know but I don’t have to tell you, this takes a lot of work dedication and also reaching out to help from others from mentors also resources providers like SBA’s resource partners that are there to provide or direct you to a technical assistant and government nonprofit entrepreneurial training, as well financial resources. One good place to start is by assessing SBA’s Ascent platform, a free learning platform for women entrepreneurs. The Ascent platform is divided into major topics called journeys developed by experts in women entrepreneurship within this journey you will find excursions with the tools you need to master a topic. Whether it is marketing, access to capital, disaster recovery, development, your business strategy, your people and SBA continues to add new information tailored, especially to women entrepreneurs ready to grow their business.
        • www.sba.gov has a resource locator page where you can just plug in your location to identify your nearest women business center (WBC) or small business development center. There is now a WBC in each of the 50 states, just click on the locator assistance tab at the top of the webpage to find a resource partner …”
    • Maria Rios closed her remarks by thanking the public for their voicing their concerns and questions.
  • Executive Director Dolphin then moved to the Q&A portion if the meeting:
    • Starting with the first question: “We are very excited about the increase in the WOSB set-aside, and percentage of federal contracts, however we have two primary concerns or questions. One, how will the federal agencies and prime contract holders be accountable to meeting those percentages?  How do we address the lack of WOSB contracts and significantly underrepresented NAICS areas, primarily STEM, software, tech and digital services?”
      • Answer from Candace Waterman: “Well within our wheelhouse and certainly policy that you know we advocated on behalf of the women-owned small business program. So, I would say first of all the answer is yes and we will. There has to be accountability and clear and transparent accountability. I actually serve on the Council for Underserved Communities with the SBA, and we are actually having this particular conversation right now around putting in place compliance and accountability reporting to ensure that as this increase occurs, we’re holding the agencies and the primes accountable. Part of that reporting is not just saying here’s the number, but really having disaggregated reporting on the number, so we can know how many contracts were available, how many of those contracts went to [WOSBs], the number of WOSBs and EDWOSBs that those contracts went to and then also the dollar amount of those contracts. Because we know through the Infrastructure Bill we have a lot of contracts and spending on the horizon and we want to ensure again equality, equity, and parity for of our socio-economic classes with respect to the NAICS codes. We have advocated for years for the disparity study that takes place every five years and of recent we have been advocating that all NAICS codes… to be honest with you truly need to be part of these programs because if you look at any one of NAICS codes you can see a disparity within them right based on a socio-economic class. Now we’re talking about women at this time and so I’m clearly going to bring that up in those particular fields that you talked about in this STEM or STEAM right? Science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. We continue to advocate on behalf of inclusion for all codes and certainly will hold everyone accountable with respect to reporting and providing disaggregate information. You can stay tapped into WIPP where we provide you monthly updates on where we are with these conversations. We are hoping that some of it does not have to have policy change with it, because we know how long that can take but that we are just talking about good practices and good business practices. I hope that answered the question.”
      • Answer from Pam Prince-Eason: “I wanted to share with you that the work of NWBC over the past six years and including now going forward we are always monitoring the NAICS codes and the underserved areas. Whether they be populations or whether they be areas of spend and we’re monitoring things like scorecards that exist for actual results of spending. Again we want to force more transparency but just want to let you know that’s a very key role of what gets delivered by the National Women’s Business Council, as well so on the policy front. Definitely do all the support through WIPP that you can do, but additionally recognize that there’s great research reporting and data collection being done by the National Women’s Business Council.”
    • Executive Director Dolphin continued with the next question, which read as follows: “Will the NWBC be engaging in research contracts with small businesses again to address topics of interest to the Council?”
      • Answer from Executive Director Dolphin, “Yes, we will, that’s a real simple yes. We are excited about conducting research. We are building, you know, our recommendations on data and research, whether it’s research that we you know connect to or research that we partner with ourselves and we’d like to do both and so that is a yes.”
    • Executive Director Dolphin then proceeded to mention the post-pandemic reality we are currently living in and if there is anything we might be shifting away from, emphasizing more of e-commerce and global markets.
      • Answer from Candace Waterman: “No, honestly. I think we have our fingers on the pulse of it. To your point Tené, in some ways, you know, this may be a heavy lift, but we cannot, as we say at home, ‘stop the good fight’ right?[…] I think Pam put it so beautifully, that we have access to broadband to every woman, no matter what corner of the U.S. that she is in. So again, we know that access to broadband is not just information, but we’re talking about e-commerce, right? We’re talking about a game-changing, sustainable economy here. There’s something has to be done and we’re going to continue that fight, but from leaving something, I don’t think we’ve left a stone unturned to be quite honest.”
      • Answer from Karen Bennetts: “We’ve been paying quite a bit of attention to helping lawmakers to understand what we’re kind of half-jokingly referring to as a ‘new age woman worker’. This is about women business owners who could have multiple employees or could just be starting out. [Especially] how essential it is for them to note the need for the flexibility to be afforded to business owners and their employees. With the 1099 concept as opposed to W-2 status, where both laws and employers can impose restrictions that become barriers to a woman’s work-life balance needs. We are looking to help effect some change as far as regulations to allow both concepts to move forward, so that women business owners and honestly all small business owners can make the choice of what’s the best fit for them and what works best for them depending on the type of business that they run. The segment that they are in, the area of the country that they’re in, and a host of other factors and just you know what works for each one of us personally. So that’s something that we’ve spent quite a bit of time talking about lately even… on our national advocacy committee calls, [it’s] ‘interesting’ to hear people’s perspectives on that one especially.”
  • Executive Director/DFO Tené Dolphin thanked all Council Members, presenters, and the public for joining and adjourned the meeting at 2:30 p.m. ET.

Virtual Public Meeting – October 25, 2021

This meeting allowed the Council to provide an update on its initiatives and policy development. Each of the Council’s subcommittees (Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship, Women in S.T.E.M., and Access to Capital & Opportunity) presented their priorities and projects before the full body and the public.