October 2019 Newsletter
WASHINTON, D.C., October 31, 2019 – This month, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) celebrated National Women’s Small Business Month and the 31st anniversary of H.R. 5050, the Women’s Business Ownership Act. NWBC recognizes the tremendous accomplishments and contributions of the estimated 13 million women-owned businesses across the country and continues to connect the voices of women entrepreneurs to policymakers in Washington, D.C.
WOMEN IN SMALL BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE – NAMPA, IDAHO
WASHINTON, D.C., October 25, 2019 – As part of its ‘Women in Small Business Roundtable Series,’ the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) held a roundtable in Nampa, Idaho on October 9, 2019, with U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), NWBC Chair Liz Sara, Council Members Jessica Flynn (Boise-based, Founder & CEO of Red Sky), Barbara Kniff McCulla (Owner of KLK Construction), and Bonnie Nawara (Past Chair of AWBC), and local women business owners. The discussion explored the unique challenges for rural women entrepreneurs and sought to identify untapped opportunities for growth.
The event began with NWBC Chair Liz Sara welcoming the roundtable participants and attendees. “NWBC is honored to be here at Idaho’s new Women’s Business Center. NWBC was established by the same legislation that established the Women’s Business Center program. Each year since our existence, we have advocated for the importance of this program and are pleased by its expansion to Idaho.” She continued, “This year, through the work of the Rural Subcommittee, led by Jessica Flynn, we focused on the importance of women’s business centers as a central resource for women entrepreneurs in rural communities.”
NWBC Council Member Jessica Flynn, a local of Boise, then introduced U.S. Senator Jim Risch (R-ID), who provided a brief legislative update and opened the conversation to the local business owners. The Senator noted that Idaho ranked 3rd in the nation for fastest growth of small business in 2018 and highlighted the economic impact of the female founders. He reiterated his commitment to empowering rural women entrepreneurs in the region.
Multiple participants referenced the absence of affordable childcare options in the state and suggested that this void prevents many women from launching new business ventures or entering the workforce altogether. Historically, Nampa has been known for its strong agricultural base. However, the city also has a large and diverse manufacturing and retail base and has gained strength from the technology industry.
A representative from the Small Business Administration recognized the cyclical nature of agriculture businesses and advised that the best time to get a line of credit is when you do not need it. He also highlighted SBA’s LenderMatch program, a free online referral tool that connects small businesses with participating SBA-approved lenders.
The founder & CEO of an e-commerce apparel brand revealed the toll that subpar infrastructure took on her bottom line. “I spend more upgrading my city block than my buildings cost me,” she revealed.
Broadband was also a major topic of discussion. A recent ranking of fixed-broadband download speeds listed Idaho as the fourth slowest state in the country. The same study also examined broadband speeds in America’s 100 largest cities and ranked Boise’s speed as 95th. Council Member Jessica Flynn lamented, “Broadband continues to be a major barrier to local entrepreneurial success and, even more, to scaling the economy.” She then shared the Council’s plans to examine the FCC mapping process and gather further input from women around the country on the broadband challenges that they face. Access to reliable broadband has been a recurring theme for women entrepreneurs. NWBC Council Member Barbara Kniff McCulla noted a similar situation in her home city of Pella, Iowa. She briefly discussed the ways that Kim Reynolds, Governor of Iowa, was working to address the issue.
NWBC Council Member Bonnie Nawara wrapped up the roundtable discussion by highlighting the overarching themes and reiterated the Council’s commitment to employ the feedback received as a springboard for the Council’s policy recommendations to Congress, the President, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. The Council appreciates the participation from diverse business owners and stakeholders in the Nampa area.
While the two reports points to great strides for women-owned businesses, Liz Sara, National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) chair, thinks that it also speaks to “some of the major challenges that we’re trying to overcome to make it easier for women.” One major problem that persists: raising capital.
Read the full article on Forbes HERE
The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) held its third public meeting of Fiscal Year 2019 on September 24, 2019, at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center in Washington, DC.
NWBC Executive Director Nina Roque welcomed Council Members and the public to the meeting. She then outlined her role as the Designated Federal Officer of the Council and detailed the ways in which the proceedings would accommodate the rules and regulations of the Federal Advisory Committee Act.
Therese Meers, Counsel for Ranking Member Ben Cardin (D-MD) on the Senate Small Business & Entrepreneurship Committee, then provided a brief overview of the Senator’s legislative priorities this Congress. She shared her personal story as a former small business owner and highlighted the programs and resources, including trainings at her local women’s business center, that helped her along the way.
Aneta Erdie, a representative from the U.S. Census Bureau, presented recently released 2018 Annual Business Survey results as they related to women-owned employer firms. As of 2017, there are 1.1 million women-owned employer firms in the United States – an increase of 100,000 from 2012. Erdie also provided an update on the Bureau’s pending project to develop statistics for non-employer firms.
Following the remarks from these key stakeholders, NWBC Chair Liz Sara provided a recap of the Council’s latest initiatives, including the ‘Women in Small Business Roundtable Series,’ the release of the ‘Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship: Challenges and Opportunities’ research report, and efforts to increase external engagement with the community. She declared, “Together, this new Council set out to engage with more women business owners than ever before; To reach out and listen to key stakeholders from across the country in locations that this Council has never visited before; To connect and collaborate with the Administration, especially the Small Business Administration and both Republican and Democrat members of Congress.”
Chair Sara then outlined the focus areas for each of the Council’s three Subcommittees and invited the leading Members to present their policy recommendations to the full body for approval. Council Member Rebecca Contreras spoke for the Access to Capital and Opportunity Subcommittee, Council Member Jess Flynn presented on behalf of the Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship Subcommittee, and Council Member Monica Stynchula spoke for the Women in STEM Subcommittee.
Contreras shared her subcommittee’s desired changes to the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWSOB) Certification process. These reforms pertain to outreach efforts, criteria, and timelines for agency determinations. She then outlined a proposal for a Federal Angel Investment Tax Credit and expressed support for the Women and Minority Equity Investment Act, which would allow women-owned firms to accept venture capital and equity investments constituting more than 50 percent of the ownership of a firm and still maintain ownership and control of the business for purposes of WOSB or 8(a) contracting program certifications, so long as the venture capital or equity firm is also woman-owned.
Stynchula began her presentation with highlights from the STEM-focused roundtables in St. Petersburg, FL and Baltimore, MD. She then shared her subcommittee’s interest in the application process for SBIR/STTR grants and urged more federal agencies to consider the value of an initial pitch phase for potential applicants to receive feedback. She also encouraged more comprehensive partnerships with HBCUs to increase overall participation in these valuable programs. Stynchula identified further areas of study for the U.S. Patenting and Trademark Office involving challenges for female innovators and expressed support for the Building Blocks of STEM Act, which pertains to the usage of National Science Foundation grants for underrepresented populations.
Flynn then shared her subcommittee’s recommendations to improve the Women’s Business Center program, including national market scans for the purpose of identifying new grant opportunities and the allocation of supplementary grant money for accessible, offsite trainings in underserved rural communities. She also encouraged improved data sharing between the SBA and the AWBC. Additionally, Flynn noted their desire to see the SBA and USDA develop an online playbook of case studies on rural entrepreneurial development. Finally, she expressed the subcommittee’s commitment to explore challenges surrounding rural broadband access during the next fiscal year.
Stay tuned for the complete list of policy recommendations in the Council’s 2019 Annual Report to Congress, the White House, and the SBA. NWBC appreciates all who made this meeting possible. Thank you to everyone on the call and in person who joined the conversation. We look forward to reviewing your feedback and continuing our advocacy on behalf of the nation’s female founders.
To provide any additional comments or feedback, please email Ashley Judah at Ashley.Judah@Sba.gov.
Marina Del Rey, CA
WOMEN IN SMALL BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE – MARINA DEL REY, CA
WASHINTON, D.C., September 30, 2019 – As part of its ‘Women in Small Business Roundtable Series,’ the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) held a roundtable in Los Angeles, CA on September 17, 2019, to better understand the specific challenges and opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship pertaining to access to capital, with a specific focus on angel investment and venture capital. California’s women owned firms employ more than 1 million people and generate a combined annual revenue of nearly $225.5 billion according to the 2017 AMEX State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.
The event began with NWBC Chair Liz Sara welcoming the roundtable participants and attendees. She noted, “Los Angeles is a very important roundtable stop for the Council. California is home to the greatest number of women-owned businesses in the nation with about 1.55 million, according to estimates in a seventh annual American Express analysis of U.S. Census Bureau data.”
NWBC Council Member Vanessa Dawson, a local of Los Angeles, then prompted the women entrepreneurs to share their experiences seeking funding to start and grow their businesses. Dawson noted that “unfortunately, female founders received only 2.2% or $2.88 billion of the total $130 billion in Venture Capital (VC) funding in 2018” and asked the roundtable participants to shed light on this phenomenon. All the participants recognized the difficulties of raising traditional forms of capital.
One participant, an angel investor, shared that the vast majority of founders in her portfolio were women because she had created an equally accessible platform and not because she had considered gender as a reason to fund. She also highlighted the low number of female investors willing to write the big checks.
Financial assistance was a recurring topic during the discussion. One investment partner lamented that she had never heard of the available Small Business Administration (SBA) loan programs prior to the roundtable and regretted the missed opportunities to connect women founders to those resources. She also encouraged federal agency outreach to the angel community and early stage growth investors. A local SBA representative shared SBA’s community to increase outreach and highlighted SBA’s LenderMatch program, a free online referral tool that connects small businesses with participating SBA-approved lenders.
NWBC Nicole Cober wrapped up the roundtable discussion by highlighting the overarching themes and reiterated the Council’s commitment to employ the feedback received as a springboard for the Council’s policy recommendations to Congress, the President, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. The Council appreciates the participation from diverse business owners and stakeholders in the Los Angeles area.
The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is a non-partisan federal advisory council established to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the President, Congress, and the Small Business Administration. As advocates for the nation’s estimated 12.3 million women-owned businesses, NWBC is launching a series of roundtables across the country to convene women business owners and better understand the unique challenges they face and identify opportunities for growth. To better engage with the local business community, NWBC will travel to states in which NWBC Council members live and grow their business. The focus of the roundtables will be the Council’s three issue priorities:
March 21, 2019 ∙ Pella, IA: NWBC launched its Women in Small Business Roundtable Series in Pella, IA during Women’s History Month. This roundtable highlighted and explored the successes and hardships of the over 15 local women business owners who attended, representing various business sectors from construction and manufacturing to online floristry and microbrewing.
June 25, 2019 ∙ Baltimore, MD: In coordination with The Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s Conference, this roundtable will provide an opportunity to explore the rising attraction of women entrepreneurs to STEM fields. With three Council members located in the area, this roundtable is sure to provide robust conversation and feedback surrounding the opportunities and challenges that remain for women in STEM careers.
July 25, 2019 ∙ Austin, TX: The State of Texas is quickly becoming a destination for innovation and entrepreneurship. Austin has been labeled one of the best cities in the nation for job seekers and the best city in Texas to start a business.
August 6, 2019 ∙ St. Petersburg, FL: With two Council members located on opposite coasts of central Florida, St. Petersburg provides a unique opportunity to engage with the vibrant Florida ecosystem about tools available for women entrepreneurs, with a focus on access to funding sources.
September 17, 2019 ∙ Los Angeles, CA: With a concentrated and large network of startups and technology companies located in nearby Silicon Valley, this roundtable will explore the tools and resources available to close the gender-based funding gap.
October 9, 2019 ∙ Boise, ID: With the recently released ‘Rural Women Entrepreneurs: Challenges and Opportunities’ Report, the Council is eager to engage with women business owners in more rural regions to develop sound policy and better tailored economic empowerment initiatives.
For more information or to participate in a roundtable, please contact Ashley Judah, Legislative Aide, at Ashley.Judah@SBA.gov.
St. Petersburg, FL
WOMEN IN SMALL BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE – SR. PETERSBURG, FL
WASHINTON, D.C., August 13, 2019 – As part of its ‘Women in Small Business Roundtable Series,’ the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) held a roundtable in St. Petersburg, FL on August 6, 2019, to better understand the specific challenges and opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship in S.T.E.M. Florida is ranked number one in the country for the fastest growth rate of women-owned businesses according to the 2018 AMEX State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.
The event began with NWBC Chair Liz Sara welcoming the roundtable participants and attendees, including founders in various business sectors in S.T.E.M., from technology to manufacturing to health. Chair Sara highlighted the Council’s efforts to convene women business owners on topics related to the Council’s three issue areas: Women in S.T.E.M., Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship, and Access to Capital.
The highlight of the Roundtable was a fireside chat with U.S. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and NWBC Council Member Marygrace Sexton, Founder & CEO of Natalie’s Orchid Island Juices. As Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, Senator Rubio discussed current legislation pertaining to women’s business enterprise such as the Women & Minority Equity Investment Act, which allows women-owned firms to accept venture capital and equity investments that would constitute more than 50 percent of the ownership of a firm and still maintain ownership and control of the business for purposes of WOSB or 8(a) contracting program certifications, so long as the venture capital or equity firm is also woman-owned. The Senator also highlighted his Supporting Veterans in S.T.E.M. Careers Act, noting, “We have a wealth of talent leaving the service, and they are equipped with unique skills. It is particularly important for our women in uniform to utilize their skills for S.T.E.M. careers or to start their own businesses.”
NWBC Council Member Monica Stynchula, Founder & CEO of REUNIONCare, Inc. and a local of St. Petersburg, then moderated a lively discussion among women business owners in S.T.E.M. fields. The importance of early S.T.E.M. education and business mentorship were prominent themes around the table. A business consultant advised, “Surround yourself with a circle of influence and recognize that you could be in someone else’s circle too.”
An owner of an engineering and manufacturing company recounted her experience as the only woman in her college science program and recalled how the professor could not remember her name and would return her papers last. She noted the importance of teaching entrepreneurial skills at an early age and engaging young women in S.T.E.M. fields. A representative from a local college highlighted that the majority of the school’s natural science majors were women, but they consistently identified as scientists and not necessarily entrepreneurs. Several participants echoed these sentiments by acknowledging the need for business education to be interwoven throughout basic education courses. Others stressed that while S.T.E.M. education was important, S.T.E.M. degrees were not as essential to a start-up’s success as the ability of the founder to learn and adapt to ever-changing technologies.
NWBC Chair Sara wrapped up the roundtable discussion by highlighting the overarching themes and reiterated the Council’s commitment to employ the feedback received as a springboard for the Council’s policy recommendations to Congress, the President, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. The Council appreciates the participation from diverse business owners and stakeholders in the St. Petersburg area.
WOMEN IN SMALL BUSINESS ROUNDTABLE – AUSTIN, TX
WASHINTON, D.C., July 30, 2019 – As part of its ‘Women in Small Business Roundtable Series,’ the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) held a roundtable in Austin, Texas, on July 25, 2019, to better understand the specific challenges and opportunities for women’s entrepreneurship by delving into the topic of access to capital, with a specific focus on issues related to credit access and venture capital. Austin has become the start-up and entrepreneurship capital of Texas and is the second-best city in the country in terms of economic clout for women in business according to the 2018 AMEX State of Women-Owned Businesses Report.
The event began with NWBC Chair Liz Sara welcoming the roundtable participants and attendees, including investors, lenders, and various business sectors from technology to aerospace to health. NWBC Council Member Rebecca Contreras, a local of Austin, then prompted the women entrepreneurs to share their experiences seeking funding to start and grow their businesses. Contreras noted that “women only receive 4.4% of small business commercial loans, despite the fact that women pay back their micro loans at a 97% rate of return” and asked the lenders in the room to shed light on this phenomenon. All the participants recognized the difficulties of raising traditional forms of capital. Some recounted being questioned by lenders differently than their male counterparts. One participant shared that while “men can get an investment on an idea, women need to go in with their product already built and show some sales first.”
The importance of mentorship and a support network, often found in other women’s business organizations, was prominent themes around the table. A high-growth business owner and advocate for female entrepreneurs recommended that other female founders assemble their own industry specific advisory committee to assist them in connecting with other founders in their industry. “Don’t be afraid to inconvenience people,” she said. Another business owner, who was initially turned away by a traditional lender, found support from her local chamber of commerce. After building a network within her chamber community, she was able to return to that same lender and acquire capital. She is now nationally recognized for her cupcakes.
NWBC Council Member Vanessa Dawson, CEO of the Vinetta Project, a capital platform that sources, funds, and supports promising female founders, shifted the discussion toward angel investing and venture capital. She noted the Pitchbook statistic that female founders received only 2.2% or $2.88 billion of the total $130 billion in VC funding in 2018.
She asked the roundtable participants to share some of their successes pitching their business ideas as well as some of their pitfalls. One woman founder shared that despite having orders from a high-end retail company, she was initially unsuccessful in acquiring venture capital.
NWBC Chair Sara wrapped up the roundtable discussion and reiterated the Council’s commitment to employ the feedback received as a springboard for the Council’s policy recommendations to Congress, the President, and the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. The Council appreciates the participation from diverse business owners and stakeholders in the Austin area.
For more information about upcoming events, please visit the NWBC website.
NWBC WELCOMES TWO NEW MEMBERS
WASHINGTON, D.C., July 2, 2019 — The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) announces two new Council members.
“I’m pleased to welcome Rebecca Hamilton, CEO of Badger, and Sandra Robert, CEO of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS),” said Liz Sara, NWBC Chair. “As a full Council, we are ready to tackle action-based results while bringing the voices of women-owned businesses to the White House, Congress, and the Small Business Administration.”
Rebecca Hamilton is a second generation owner and co-CEO (Collaborative Executive Officer) at Badger, a natural and organic personal care products manufacturer known for its unique company philosophy, pioneering family-friendly benefits, and community engagement.
Sandra Robert is the CEO of AWIS, a national professional association that champions the interests of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) across all disciplines and employment sectors.
With the addition of these trailblazers, NWBC will continue to focus its advocacy efforts on Women in STEM, Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship, and Access to Capital and Opportunity. NWBC remains committed to advocating for women in business and expanding opportunities for women business owners and their enterprises.