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The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) recently held a hybrid Public Meeting at 12:00 PM ET on January 23, 2024. The meeting was held at SBA Headquarters (409 3rd St SW, Washington, DC 20416) and live streamed on Zoom.

By participating in the Public Meeting, members of the public were able to learn about the Council’s ongoing research, engagement, and policy endeavors, understand how the Council moves in alignment with other women’s business organizations, and share their firsthand experiences when it comes to entrepreneurship.

Public Meeting Recap

Welcome RemarksExecutive Director/Designated Federal Officer (DFO) Tené Dolphin

Guest RemarksAssistant Administrator Christina Hale

Chair AddressNWBC Chair Sima Ladjevardian

Deeper Dive into PolicySubcommittee Chairs Roberta McCullough, Selena Rodgers Dickerson, and Kathy Cochran

Research DocketPublic Affairs Manager Jordan Chapman and Dr. Izzy Schieber of dFusion

2024 Outlook by Partner OrganizationsRepresentatives from the Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC), the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC), the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL), the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), and Small Business Majority

AWBC OutlookRoberta McCullough, Board Chair of AWBC

WBENC OutlookPamela Prince-Eason, CEO and President of WBENC

CWEL OutlookDr. Shakenna Williams, Executive Director of CWEL and Founder of BWEL

NAWBO OutlookJen Earle, CEO of NAWBO

Small Business Majority OutlookAlexis D’Amato, Government Affairs Director of Small Business Majority

2024 Outlook Q&ACouncil Members

Public CommentsCouncil Member Karen Clark Cole

Closing RemarksExecutive Director/Designated Federal Officer (DFO) Tené Dolphin

***

Council Members

Outlook Conversation Participants

NWBC Team

###

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) held its second public meeting of Fiscal Year 2019 on May 17, 2019. This meeting was hosted by Council member, Dr. Marsha Firestone, at the Women Presidents’ Organization Headquarters in New York, NY.

Nina Roque, NWBC Executive Director, officially welcomed the newly installed Council members and the public to the meeting. Roque also outlined her role as the Designated Federal Officer of the Council and encouraged the public to provide comments and feedback on the Council’s work.

NWBC Chair Liz Sara then provided an update on the Council’s Fiscal Year 2019 events and engagement, including a recap of the Council’s October 25th public meeting  in celebration of its 30th Anniversary. Chair Sara also outlined the Council’s three priorities for the year: Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship, Women in S.T.E.M., and Access to Capital & Opportunity. “Let’s face it: women entrepreneurs confront numerous challenges in starting and growing companies,” said Chair Liz Sara. “By concentrating our focus, energy and talent to only three areas, we have a greater chance at accomplishing needed change and making a noticeable difference. As an entrepreneur all my career, I’m interested in getting things done so we can see results that matter,” she added. She then officially announced the Council’s ‘Women in Small Business Roundtable Series’, which will convene women business owners from across the country and serve as a springboard for the Council’s policy recommendations. 

Chair Sara then introduced the three subcommittee Chairs — Marygrace Sexton (Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship), Shelonda Stokes (Women in S.T.E.M), and Rebecca Contreras (Access to Capital & Opportunity) — and invited each Chair to provide an update on their subcommittee’s identified focus areas and upcoming initiatives. Council member Jessica Flynn presented on behalf of Ms. Sexton. 

Access to capital continues to be one of the biggest barriers for women entrepreneurs. Women-led firms struggle to obtain mainstream forms of funding and compete for federal contracts. NWBC looks forward to tackling the potential benefits of alternative financing solutions, such as crowdfunding, and better tailored training for the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) federal procurement program. Last Tuesday, the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced formal rulemaking to implement their statutory requirement to certify WOSB and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business Concerns (EDWOSB) participating in the WOSB program. NWBC plans to study and review SBA’s rule from now until July 8, 2019, when we will be taking the issue up to a full Council vote. We are requesting that the public provide feedback to NWBC by this date, so the Council can consider those comments when reaching a consensus on NWBC’s official recommendation to SBA.

The Council will also be engaging S.T.E.M stakeholders in discussions about the state of female participation in their fields of study. NWBC is committed to increasing opportunities and resources for women-owned and women-led businesses. This new Council is particularly interested in encouraging women-led businesses with high-growth aspirations and potential. Through the ‘Women in Small Business Roundtable Series,’ the Council looks forward to focusing on S.T.E.M Entrepreneurship and the impact that women have in these fields. NWBC will be hosting a S.T.E.M. Entrepreneurship Roundtable in Baltimore, Maryland, at the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council’s Annual Conference on June 25, 2019. With three Council members located in the area, this roundtable is sure to provide vibrant conversation and feedback surrounding the opportunities and challenges that women face in S.T.E.M.

The Council also hopes to gain further insight on the unique challenges faced by rural women entrepreneurs and identify untapped opportunities for growth. The Council’s ‘Rural Women Entrepreneurs: Challenges and Opportunities’ Report lays the foundation for sound policy and better-tailored economic empowerment initiatives in these regions. The Council intends to update and modernize its ‘Grow Her Business’ resources page housed on the NWBC website to reflect new tools available for women entrepreneurs with a specific focus on those in rural regions. A key partner of the Council in increasing awareness of available resources is the Women’s Business Center network. 

NWBC appreciates all who participated and made this meeting possible. Thank you to everyone on the call and in person, who was able to join in on the conversation. We look forward to reviewing your comments and continuing our advocacy on behalf of the estimated 12 million women-owned businesses in this country.

To provide any additional comments or feedback, or to participate in NWBC’s ‘Women in Small Business Roundtable Series,’ please email Ashley Judah at Ashley.Judah@Sba.gov.

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 training 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 training 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.

NWBC Public Meeting Recap

Update from NWBC Chair Liz Sara:

  • On May 21, 2020, the Council released a joint statement with SBA Administrator Jovita Carranza to reiterate our shared commitment to ensuring that women have increased opportunities to access capital, particularly as they navigate the pandemic.
  • We have moved our signature #LetsTalkBusiness Roundtable Series, which connects the voices of women entrepreneurs and business owners from across the country to policymakers in the Nation’s capital, to a virtual setting.
  • We recently held two webinars on CARES Act funding – “Learn How to Navigate the COVID-19 Stimulus Package” and “Community Lending Key to Main Street Recovery.”
    • This programming aimed to connect women entrepreneurs to necessary resources for utilizing stimulus relief.
  • NWBC Staff is working to formalize a partnership with the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure that we have accurate, up-to-date data tabulations of the shared landscape of women business owners (both employer and non-employer).
  • We are monitoring legislation to reconvene the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise.
    • In light of efforts to better reach underserved communities with pandemic relief, there is no better time to revive this body and coordinate federal programming to empower women entrepreneurs.

Update from the Access to Capital & Opportunity Subcommittee:

Provided by Subcommittee Co-Chairs Pam Prince-Eason and Vanessa Dawson

  • We continue to monitor the distribution of Paycheck Protection Program funding.
    • Prioritizing the approval of CDFIs and minority depository institutions as eligible lenders will broaden the pool of capital access options and help reach small businesses in traditionally underserved communities, including urban minority and rural women-owned businesses.
  • On February 27, 2020, the Subcommittee held a roundtable in San Juan, Puerto Rico with Governor Wanda Garced Vazquez. The discussion highlighted a need for increased financial education and preparedness as well as a need to evaluate opportunity zones as a funding mechanism for women business owners.
  • We have been liaising extensively with key member agencies of the Financial Literacy and Education Commission (FLEC) to find ways to further leverage free federal resources.
  • We are concerned with the lack of publicly available data and tracking of female investors participating in Qualified Opportunity Funds, the number of women business owners in Qualified Opportunity Zones benefitting from infusion of capital, and/or the number of jobs created for women residing in Opportunity Zones.

Update from the Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship Subcommittee:

Provided by Subcommittee Chair Jess Flynn

  • Our primary focus areas include:
    • The economic impact of childcare availability and affordability and its burden on women’s entrepreneurship and business ownership.
    • The lack of reliable broadband in rural communities and the implications for home-based solopreneurs.
    • Prevailing challenges for Women’s Business Centers in reaching underserved audiences.
  • On May 27, 2020, the Subcommittee hosted a virtual roundtable on childcare with women business owners, organizational representatives, and government officials. Participants recognized the reliance of other sectors on this industry and highlighted the regulatory burdens for providers. Subsidies as well as grants to incentivize investments from local businesses were discussed.
  • We continue to monitor new grant placements for Women’s Business Centers to ensure that rural communities have equal opportunities. We were thrilled to see recent grants in West Virginia and South Carolina.

Update from the Women in STEM Subcommittee:

Provided by Subcommittee Chair Monica Stynchula

  • We are currently collaborating with the SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation (OII) to develop a study on ‘Women-Owned Participation in SBIR and STTR Programs.’ We look forward to the report’s July release.
    • We are evaluating the level/number of applications and awards to women-owned businesses and considering the participation of women as Principal Investigators (PIs)/technical leads. We are also examining federal best practices—specifically for SBIR/STTR, the FAST Program, and Entrepreneurial Development resources like Growth Accelerators.
  • We continue engagement with key federal agencies such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) to identify major challenges faced by women in the patenting and trademark process
  • We are working to identify best practices and programs that provide resources, funding opportunities, and increased access to STEM role models and mentorship opportunities for female scientists, women business owners, and students in K-12, undergraduate, and graduate STEM education.
    • We hope to identify better ways to leverage HBCUs and MSIs.

Update from the Communications Subcommittee:

Provided by Subcommittee Chair Nicole Cober

  • Our mission is to better engage NWBC’s primary stakeholders through focused outreach and our Annual Report deliverable.
  • We aim to expand NWBC’s secondary audience, women business owners and entrepreneurs, by increasing webinar viewership and social media presence. This will allow us to elevate the voices of women in businesses and connect them to policymakers.

On January 29, 2020, the subcommittee launched NWBC’s #WebinarWednesday, a monthly, multi-series webinar that connects women entrepreneurs and business owners to key advocates, experts, and useful resources in order to bolster their knowledge and skills and elevate their entrepreneurial potential.

This meeting will allow the Council to recap its activity and engagement over the course of Fiscal Year 2020. Each of the Council’s four subcommittees (Access to Capital & Opportunity, Women in STEM, Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship, and Communications) will present their policy recommendations and current projects to the full body for deliberation. The public will have the opportunity to provide feedback.

Date: September 14, 2022

Scheduled 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 12:32 p.m. EDT.
  • NWBC Executive Director/Designated Federal Officer (DFO) Tené Dolphin welcomed Council Members, guests, and the public to the meeting and delivered opening remarks.
    • Executive Director Dolphin highlighted engagements and transitions that occurred during fiscal year 2022, including the appointment of 5 new Council Members:
      • Jaime Gloshay, Co-Director of Native Women Lead
      • Roberta McCullough, Board Chair of the Association of Women’s Business Centers and Sr Vice President of Operations for Institute Capital
      • Selena Rodgers Dickerson, Founder and CEO of SARCOR LLC and Selene LLC
      • Dr. Shakenna Williams, Executive Director of the Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership and Black Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership at Babson College
      • Pamela Prince-Eason, President and CEO of Women’s Business Enterprise National Council
    • She also shared basic information regarding federal advisory committees (FACAs). There are about 1,000 advisory committees with more than 60,000 members that advise the President and the Executive Branch on a myriad of issues as private citizens.
    • Along with that, she shared that this Federal Advisory Council is housed within the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and provides advice and counsel to the President, Congress and SBA Administrator on issues deemed important to women business owners and entrepreneurs. She then outlined the structure of the Council.
    • After which, she 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 review and vote upon policy recommendations for the NWBC’s 2022 Annual Report. These recommendations were based on research, internal meetings, meetings with external stakeholders, input from subject matter experts, and other public engagements.
    • Executive Director Dolphin concluded by explaining the agenda for the rest of the meeting and providing background on the Council’s three subcommittees:  Access to Capital & Opportunity, Women in STEM, and Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship.
  • Roll Call was taken. The following Council Members were in attendance:
    • Maria Rios
    • Roberta McCullough
    • Jaime Gloshay
    • Dr. Shakenna Williams
    • Selena Rodgers Dickerson
    • Pamela Prince-Eason
  • Executive Director Dolphin then introduced the guest speaker for the meeting, Diedra Henry-Spires, Senior Advisor to the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

Remarks from Diedra Henry-Spires

  • During her remarks, Senior Advisor Diedra Henry-Spires touched upon the following topics:
    • The commitment of SBA to supporting women business owners
    • Major SBA and Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) accomplishments and talking points from the previous fiscal year such as:
      • The expansion of women’s business centers (WBCs) to 146, now covering each U.S. state
      • The opening of three WBCs in Puerto Rico, a signal of dedication to supporting the territory’s economic recovery
      • The role of women business owners in supporting disaster relief efforts in their community
      • New and ongoing partnerships with historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) and minority-serving institutes (MSIs)
      • The inaugural Women’s Business Summit, which will occur once again this year and reached an audience of over 20,000 participants
    • Focus areas for the upcoming fiscal year including:
      • Highlighting best practices to increase women business owners’ access to capital, especially when it comes to venture capital (VC)
      • Continuing to foster a whole-of-government and whole-of-SBA approach to supporting businesses
      • The importance of the childcare industry, both to the small business owners who depend on it as well as those who own childcare businesses
    • The continued collaboration between NWBC, OWBO, and SBA in delivering impactful work to communities
    • The significance of the work of the Council in supporting communities, encouraging policy changes for the better, and promoting bipartisanship
  • Executive Director Dolphin thanked Senior Advisor to the Administrator of SBA Diedra Henry-Spires for her participation and transitioned to the presentation of the FY 2022 NWBC policy recommendations.
  • Council Members Jaime Gloshay, Selena Rodgers Dickerson, and Dr. Shakenna Williams presented NWBC’s fiscal year 2022 policy recommendations covering: Access to Capital & Opportunity, Women in STEM, and Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship

Presentation of Policy Recommendations & Vote:

Access to Capital & Opportunity Subcommittee

  • Council Member Jaime Gloshay presented this subcommittee’s policy recommendations, which included the following:
    • Showcase the Policy “Wins” for Women in Business and Work Toward Systemic Change
      • NWBC recommends that the White House/White House Gender Policy Council (GPC) should develop a list of recent “policy wins” for women, including policy changes which show promise for advancing women’s business enterprise, for example changes aimed at helping to close the entrepreneurial development, financing, and federal contracting gender gap.
    • But First, Just Fund Her:  Create a Financing Bridge to a “Capital Stack” and Promote WOSB Growth
      • The Council encourages Congress and the SBA to continue improving accessibility to all SBA lending programs, by closely examining the needs and lived experiences of startup and scale up women-owned small businesses (WOSBs), ensuring there are no training prerequisites to funding, and reassessing lending criteria, product affordability, and innovative repayment flexibilities.
    • Define “Microbusiness” and Reconsider Debt Relief Options for Micro- and Small Women-Owned Enterprises Impacted by Global Disruptions
      • NWBC recommends that Congress should develop and provide a uniform definition for a microbusiness. Additionally, Congress and SBA should reconsider expanding debt relief options for certain 7(a), 504, and microloan borrowers, prioritizing the needs of economically disadvantaged micro- and small business borrowers in industries with significant female participation, particularly those severely impacted by pandemic-related global supply chain issues or other major global economic disruptions.
    • Advance and Grow a Community of Women Investing in Women-Owned Businesses
      • The Council recommends that the Administration provide grants to fund the creation of new firms or to boost recently established VC firms, emphasizing those with under $50 million and with less than three years of operation.
      • The Council recommends that Congress should hold a hearing to explore best practices and viable policy changes which may help incentivize traditional financial institutions and VC firms to increase the representation of women fund managers and actual investments in diverse, women-owned businesses.
    • Continue to Strengthen and Work Toward Parity for the WOSB/EDWOSB Federal Contracting Program
      • The NWBC lauds the Administration’s focus to increase federal contracting opportunities for more women and minority small business owners and encourages the SBA to continue examining viable and effective methods to improve the tracking and public sharing of disaggregated data on both federal women-owned prime contracting and WOSB/EDWOSB awards.
      • The NWBC supports SBA’s continued efforts to streamline and reduce wait times on WOSB certification and encourages it to expand its outreach and education efforts on the WOSB/EDWOSB certification process and resources, prioritizing women business owners in economically disadvantaged communities. Additionally, to ensure streamlining and improve response, the Council respectfully encourages Congress to identify an appropriate level of funding for the program.
      • The NWBC encourages Congress and SBA to consider enhancing current efforts underway to improve contracting officers’ (CO)/the federal acquisition community’s training, so they are more knowledgeable and empowered to leverage WOSB/EDWOSB set-aside or sole source awards.
      • The NWBC urges SBA to continue to work with federal agencies and the National Economic Council to identify a higher WOSB/EDWOSB spending goal above the current 5% goal, for example to 7% or higher.
      • The Council recommends that Congress should consider implementing a federal flow down requirement for all federal acquisition needs, particularly for procurement opportunities connected to the implementation of the 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL).
    • Fund, Expand, and Tailor Federal Financial Capability Resources for Women Small Business Owners
      • The Council recommends that Congress and/or SBA should provide dedicated financial literacy/capability funding for women small business owners so that they are better informed and empowered to skill up on maximizing cash flow to support their operations. For example, financial business capability grants would, at a minimum, focus on cash flow management, creating a business plan, hiring a new employee, and succession planning.
    • Provide Additional Relief for WOSBs Impacted by Ongoing Supply Chain Disruptions and Workforce Availability Issues
      • The Council recommends that Congress should consider viable options for expanding tax relief for small business owners severely impacted by global supply chain disruptions and workforce availability issues, emphasizing relief for businesses in industries with a significant level of participation by women and minorities.
  • NWBC Executive Director/DFO Tené Dolphin called for the Council Members to vote.
    • All Council Members voted to adopt the Access to Capital & Opportunity policy recommendations for fiscal year 2022.

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Women in STEM Subcommittee

  • Council Member Selena Rodgers Dickerson presented this subcommittee’s policy recommendations, which included the following:
    • Women in Academic Innovation
      • NWBC recommends that the White House should suggest that universities successfully implement a “Diversity and Inclusion Plan” as a requirement to obtaining federal research grants.
      • NWBC recommends that Congress should amend the proposed Women and Minorities in STEM Booster Act of 2021 to include an entrepreneurial focus and training on taking STEM products to market.
      • NWBC recommends that SBA should incentivize Women’s Business Center (WBC) grantees to partner with local universities and tech transfer offices to provide mentorship, idea-sharing on best practices, and opportunities for real-world work experience and application of insights.
    • High-Yield and High-Growth Fields with Low Levels of Representation
      • NWBC recommends that the Administration’s implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law (BIL) should emphasize and prioritize women and women of color to ensure fair access to actual contracting awards through focused outreach, education, and data collection.
      • NWBC recommends that Congress should expand the definition of “accelerator” to include the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries in proposed legislation, for example in the Startup Opportunity Accelerator (SOAR) Act. This piece of legislation should also prioritize women entrepreneurs.
      • NWBC recommends that our Council commission research focusing on both high yield (STEM) and high growth industries (currently AEC), as well as industries with an over-representation of women but with undervaluation (healthcare).
    • The STEM Pipeline
      • NWBC recommends that Congress should ensure women entrepreneurs and workers re-entering the labor force have fair access to training and targeted assistance opportunities (STEM RESTART Act). This training and assistance could be delivered as part of a collaboration between academia, entrepreneurial ecosystem builders, and small businesses.
      • NWBC recommends that Congress should invest in STEM education and career outreach at the primary and secondary education level through legislation such as HR 5893 (21st Century STEM for Girls and Underrepresented Minorities Act) and HR 7251 (Getting Involved in Researching, Learning, and Studying of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Act or the GIRLS STEM Act). Legislation with a STEM educational outreach component should integrate entrepreneurial education and have a robust definition of STEM that also includes the AEC industries.
      • NWBC recommends that the SBA should encourage SCORE to bolster its online mentorship to ensure that mentor opportunities are not limited geographically and cut across industries. WBCs should provide or enhance complementary support services, leveraging their networks and other SBA resource partners including Community Navigators to deliver tailored and industry-specific support to diverse women entrepreneurs. SBA could support these initiatives by creating additional industry-specific resources in the Ascent platform.
  • NWBC Executive Director/DFO Tené Dolphin called for the Council Members to vote.
    • All Council Members voted to adopt the Women in STEM policy recommendations for fiscal year 2022.

***

Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship Subcommittee

  • Council Member Shakenna Williams presented this subcommittee’s policy recommendations, which included the following:
    • Persistent Barriers to Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship:  Lack of Affordable Child Care and Equitable Paid Family and Medical Leave (PFML)
      • The Council recommends that the White House should identify the most appropriate federal agencies to further enhance outreach and education to small businesses on national PFML solutions. Additionally, the Council respectfully encourages Congress to hold new hearings to explore how a national PFML solution could potentially make U.S. small businesses more competitive at home and abroad.
      • The Council recommends that the White House develop a plan of action which would further empower SBA to improve and expand entrepreneurial development resources and affordable financing for the hardest hit childcare and care economy businesses, particularly in rural, rural/tribal, and other underserved communities.
    • Gaining Fresh Insights on Rural Ecosystems:  Workforce Development Issues, Local Governance, and Capacity Issues Impacting Rural and Tribal Women Entrepreneurs
      • We recommend that NWBC should conduct a landscape analysis in fiscal year 2023 to better assess the effectiveness of current entrepreneurial ecosystems, technical assistance capacity, local governance issues, and the “brain drain” impacting rural WOSB/EDWOSB growth. The study should also identify effective program models to improve engagement of women entrepreneurs in tribal and immigrant communities.
    • Empowering Rural Women Entrepreneurs to Thrive in Tomorrow’s Global Economy, Today
      • The Council recommends that the Administration and/or SBA should encourage WBCs, universities, and local incubators and accelerators to improve and expand outreach, mentoring, and training so that increased numbers of diverse rural women entrepreneurs are strongly positioned to take advantage of tomorrow’s tech and green market opportunities.
      • The Council recommends that SBA provide supplemental funding for WBCs partnering with Workforce Opportunity for Rural Communities (WORC) grantees, to assist women-owned businesses in identifying skilled rural workers, including those trained to fill tech and green jobs.
    • Enhancing Federal Support and Coordinated and Accessible Resources for Rural Women Entrepreneurs
      • The Council recommends that the White House should continue its collaborative work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and encourage a strategic alliance with the Rural Prosperity Interagency Council (RPIC) and Rural Partners Network (RPN) to prioritize increased outreach and support for rural and women business owners. Additionally, it should further help disseminate best practices on outreach, available wrap-around services, and federal entrepreneurial development resources and funding opportunities.
    • Down to The Roots:  Leveraging Community-Based Supports to Bolster Rural Women Entrepreneurs
      • The Council recommends that SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) should continue supporting WBCs to help them enhance coordination with procurement technical assistance centers (PTACs) and other small business resource partners to better assist rural women business owners interested in pursuing federal contracting opportunities, including by leveraging referrals and instituting robust benchmarks and metrics.
      • The Council recommends that the SBA should continue monitoring Community Navigators Hub and Spoke organizations to ensure active outreach to and engagement of women entrepreneurs, instituting robust benchmarks and metrics for these efforts.
  • NWBC Executive Director/DFO Tené Dolphin called for the Council Members to vote.
    • All Council Members voted to adopt the Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship policy recommendations for fiscal year 2022.

Public Comments

Public Comments & Questions with Responses

  • Council Member Roberta McCullough moderated public comments—presenting questions, comments and responses.
  • The first question came from Ms. Lindora Baker.  She asked, “How do you become a member of NWBC?”  The Council offered the following response:
    • Thank you, Lindora!  That is a great question.  National Women’s Business Council Members are appointed based on recommendations from the President, members of Congress, the SBA Administrator or current Council Members and staff.  They are seasoned entrepreneurs and dedicated women’s business enterprise advocates, recognized for adding value to our country and society, and are located in a variety of locations from Texas to Massachusetts.
  • The Council also received a comment from Suzanne Aguirre, who said that she is “attending to learn more and keep up-to-date on NWBC information.”  The Council offered the following response:
    • Thanks, Suzanne!  We invite you to stay engaged with NWBC by subscribing to receive updates from our Council at www.nwbc.gov.  We urge you to join the conversation via our social channels, including on Twitter, @NWBC, and on Instagram, @NWBCgov.  You can also find us, of course, on LinkedIn and Facebook.
  • The final comment came from Thomas Tetonnette.  He shared that he was “Looking forward to learning more about your organization and if it will be something I can refer to my clients; for their business growth and involvement.”  The Council offered the following response:
    • Thank you for sharing this comment with us, Thomas!  It provides us with a fantastic opportunity to clarify our own work and share more about work being done by others.  While we are not a programmatic office per se, our mission does involve keeping tabs on national women’s business enterprise issues, programs, resources, and policy trends.  To get a general overview of resources that support women’s entrepreneurship, be sure to check out the Resiliency Resources section of our 2021 Annual Report.  This section provides a thorough catalog of resources that can be of use to your clients.
    • We would also recommend women entrepreneurs at any stage of their entrepreneurial development consider checking out SBA’s Learning Platform, along with their women business ownership-focused Ascent Platform.  When it comes to community-level support, women business owners cannot go wrong by connecting with their local Women’s Business Center, visiting the nearest Small Business Development Center, or considering mentoring opportunities with the SCORE program.

Executive Director/DFO Tené Dolphin thanked all Council Members, guests, and the public for joining and adjourned the meeting at 1:45 p.m. ET.

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
    • She also shared basic information regarding FACAs. There are about 1,000 advisory committees with more than 60,000 members that advise the President and the Executive Branch on a myriad of issues as private citizens.
    • 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 understand 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 policymakers 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 WIPP’s upcoming events, including the organization’s participation at the WBENC conference in Atlanta, Georgia from 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.
  • 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.

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.

Public Meeting Recap

Date: February 8, 2023

Scheduled Time:  10:00 AM – 12:00 PM EDT

Where: SBA Headquarters and ZOOM

Welcome & Opening Remarks

  • NWBC Executive Director/Designated Federal Officer (DFO) Tené Dolphin called the meeting to order at 10:10 a.m. EDT.
  • NWBC Executive Director/Designated Federal Officer (DFO) Tené Dolphin welcomed Council Members, guests, and the public to the meeting and delivered opening remarks.
    • In recognition of Black History Month, NWBC this year celebrates and honors the over 2.7 million Black women business owners that serve as a beacon of hope and a means to financial freedom for their families. The Council has invited Samantha Abrams, CEO of Walker’s Legacy, a premier ecosystem and digital platform for entrepreneurial women of color, to share her perspective on commemorating the occasion.
    • Executive Director Dolphin acknowledged U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) leaders in the room including:
      • Mark Madrid, Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development
      • Aditi Dussault, Senior Advisor to the SBA Administrator
      • Donald Smith, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO)
      • Jennifer Shieh, Director of Ecosystem Development, Office of Investment and Innovation (OII)
    • Executive Director/DFO Dolphin noted last year’s Inaugural Women’ Business Summit and shared that OWBO and NWBC would be collaborating in providing planning and support for SBA’s Second Annual SBA Women’s Business Summit. This summit is especially significant as it coincides with the 35th Anniversary of the passage of H.R. 5050 and establishment of the OWBO as well as NWBC—a federal advisory committee that advise the President and the Executive Branch on a myriad of issues as private citizens.
    • This Federal Advisory Council is a nonpartisan Council housed within SBA and provides advice and counsel to the President, Congress and SBA Administrator on issues of importance to women business owners and entrepreneurs. She explained that the work of the Council is less about direct or the technical support that SBA typically provides, but more about learning of issues and the ways the Council can help improve policy and programs or propose the creation of new policies and programs that would better support women business owners.
    • Executive Director Dolphin then outlined the structure of the Council, also noting 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 aid Council Members in identifying emerging issues, effective program models, proposed legislation and viable policy solutions of consequence and impact to the state of women’s business ownership.
  • Roll call was then taken. The following Council Members were in attendance:
    • Brandy Butler
    • Karen Clark Cole
    • Shakenna Williams
    • Maria Rios
    • Selena Rodgers Dickerson
    • Roberta McCullough
    • Jenny Poon
    • Pamela Prince-Eason (virtual)
    • Kathy Cochran
    • Leslie Lynn Smith
  • Executive Director Dolphin then introduced the guest and keynote speakers for the meeting:
    • Mark Madrid, Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development
    • Aditi Dussault, Senior Advisor to the Office of the SBA Administrator
    • Samantha Abrams, CEO and Managing Director of Walker’s Legacy

Remarks from Mark Madrid

  • Mark Madrid, Associate Administrator for the Office of Entrepreneurial Development, shared remarks making the following key points:
    • The bottom line is that the greatest influences in his life have been women.
    • He thanked the NWBC Team and shared his excitement to attend NWBC’s first in-person meeting since the pandemic and to have the opportunity to hear from his colleague, SBA Senior Advisor Aditi Dussault. He thanked Senior Advisor Dussualt for her service, before recognizing other SBA leaders in the room including Donald Smith and Preston Hardge.
    • He noted how difficult the pandemic was on everyone and what an honor it is for him to serve small business owners. During the pandemic, prior to serving at SBA, he worked on the ground to support the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and economic industry disaster loan (EIDL) programs on behalf of a cluster of about 1,000 local small businesses.
    • He shared how he grew up in a family-owned business, how his parents met in the cotton fields, and why he takes pride in seeing the work of his family’s welding company across cities in the Texas panhandle.
    • Having lost his father and nearly lost his mother to COVID-19 and supported small business on the ground during this troubling time, he knows that the pandemic has been difficult.
    • He also shared his own personal story of how he had to auction all his father’s business and person belongings after his passing and acknowledging the loss felt by so many small businesses, and wishing we could all be in a different place.
    • In spite of that, he is inspired by the Administrator’s commitment to breaking down barriers, providing customer-first and technology-forward support, advancing equity, closing resource gaps in access to capital, and seeing more businesses graduate from microloans to 7(a)/504 programs all the way to getting certified and accessing federal procurement and contracting opportunities.
    • Though he wishes his father had the chance for this same level of growth and even gotten franchised, he then noted that like many women, he is not built of inherited wealth and that is why he is humbled and honored by the leadership that women business owners across the country, SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman and so many SBA officials have shown.
    • He also feels fortunate to engage with this Council, sharing his experience meeting Council Member Maria Rios in Houston, Texas who has triumphed in a male dominated industry because of her courage.
    • When Maria first applied for lending, the banker assumed it was a “Mario Rios” who was applying for support rather than Maria. Associate Administrator Madrid shared how Maria then built her fleet from two dump trucks to over fifty trucks. He went on to share how he is remains inspired by her resilience and that of other women in business.
    • Recognizing Black History Month, he also raised up that another woman in business who inspires him is Stephanie Johnson, a black woman small business owner who was highlighted during SBA’s recent cybersecurity summit.
    • The Administrator is proud to elevate stories like Stephanie’s throughout Black History Month.
    • Associate Administrator Madrid noted that at the end of the day, SBA’s Office of Entrepreneurial Development continues to work with the Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) and the NWBC to advance women’s entrepreneurship.
    • He believes that women business owners deserve to be celebrated 365 days a year, not just in March. He then thanked the Council for the opportunity to speak after reasserting his and SBA Administrator’s Isabella Casillas Guzman’s commitment to advancing women small business owners.
  • After thanking Associate Administrator Mark Madrid, Executive Director Dolphin then transitioned to introduce Senior Advisor to the Office of the Administrator, Aditi Dussault who recently returned to the SBA after working in the private sector for five years as an entrepreneur and consultant to federal contractors. She previously served in various roles under the Obama Administration including the Office of Government Contracting and Business Development (GCBD) as well.

Remarks from Aditi Dussault

  • Aditi Dussault, Senior Advisor to the SBA Administrator, noted the importance of these conversations and shared several key insights which include the following:
    • She began by noting the importance of this Public Meeting as SBA works to move back to business as usual, or even to something better—like business as innovative or business as inspirational. She also underscored Executive Director Dolphin’s and Associate Administrator Madrid’s excitement to be getting back to normal and holding this Public Meeting in person.
    • Senior Advisor Dussault noted her intention to discuss the accomplishments of the Biden-Harris Administration and the SBA, and to share the agency’s vision for our community of women entrepreneurs and business owners.
    • She referenced the State of the Union from the night prior and emphasized that the Biden-Harris Administration has been working hard to help America “build back better”, evidenced by the record numbers (10.2 million) of small business startups, growth in manufacturing (800,000), and how the Administration has been able to address economic problems stemming from the pandemic and natural disasters, as well as other issues the country has faced.  
    • Senior Advisor Dussault underscored that we are on the right track and will continue to build and create an economy and America that is inclusive and works for everyone. 
    • She emphasized SBA Administrator Casillas Guzman’s commitment to supporting inclusivity and innovation for small businesses—she is thinking about it every moment of every day. Additionally, the Administrator recognized women entrepreneurs as powerful, growing, innovative and making an impact in every single sector. Women belong everywhere, from the boardroom, public meetings, the government, and public service.
    • She went on to underscore once again the SBA Administrator’s commitment to inclusion, recognizing she was appointed herself, not because of her race, appearance, or identity, but because of her expertise. So, there is a place for each and every person whether it be in this agency, in the current Administration, and in America.
    • Senior Advisor Dussault then transitioned to addressing women entrepreneurs’ need to access capital. Women have faced historical barriers when it comes to accessing capital. That is why the Administrator is working closely with the agency Office of Capital Access to address these barriers.
    • For example, the agency has expanded the Community Advantage program and lifted the moratorium on adding new lenders, so that more small dollar loans can go to women-owned small businesses. This expansion would help fill that gap in accessing capital. She reiterated that there is no reason why women should have to go to their own pocketbooks, their savings, their friends, and families to get the funding they need.
    • Another example given to ensure greater equity is via proposing rules to expand and diversify the lending pool through small business investment companies (SBICs)to support historically underrepresented communities in financing.
    • One of the important ways SBA directly connects with women business owners is through the Women’s Business Center (WBC) program.
    • There are currently 145 WBCs, one in every state. There are many new communities that the SBA is now able to serve through the expansion of the program.
      • With respect to WBCs, it was also mentioned that SBA is now looking to expand the way they are funded. Last year WBCs served 85,000 business owners, helped launch over 3,000 new businesses, and facilitated over 8,000 capital infusion transactions. Therefore, increasing size of the grant available to these certain WBCs could lead to exponential growth outcomes.
      • WBCs have also been opening specifically at minority-serving institutions (MSIs), providing a critical resource to historically underserved communities.
    • Shifting to the issue of federal contracting, in fiscal year 2021, women owned small businesses (WOSBs) received 4.63% of prime contracting awards, significantly less than the federal goal of 5 percent. This goal has only been met twice since the establishment of the WOSB federal contracting program.
      • Senior Advisor Dussault opined that there should be consideration given to setting a higher goal (as was similarly proposed by the Council in NWBC’s 2022 Annual Report).
      • Regardless, SBA is working in tandem with agencies to help support access to more contracting opportunities for WOSBs.
      • SBA supported this effort last year by expanding the number of WOSB-eligible industries by nearly double.
      • Senior Advisor Dussault also emphasized SBA is committed to continuing to improve the technology, streamline the process, and find ways to ensure greater numbers of women business owners can access the program and, not only to get certified, but also get the opportunity to win a contract.
    • Senior Advisor Dussault welcomed the meeting participants and attendees to share barriers they may be facing. She underscored that there is no barrier she will not attempt to break through, nor a regulation that she will not dig into.
    • She also emphasized that the Administrator takes the advice of her staff and organizations like NWBC seriously, and this input is how she will continue to inform her vision for improving the American economy.

Keynote from Samantha Abrams

  • Samantha Abrams, CEO/Managing Director of Walker’s Legacy, delivered remarks and shared various insights, including:
    • She noted the importance of honoring Black History Month and inspire women entrepreneurs to bet on themselves.From her perspective, entrepreneurs create employment opportunities for themselves and others as well.She shared her family’s entrepreneurial journey and how the experiences of her grandmother and mother inspire her work each and every day.She also shared that listening to the stories from women business owners is important because we get to learn more about who they are, why they started these businesses, and what inspired them to bootstrap.In her eyes, we need to disrupt this bootstrapping and “give black and brown women the opportunity” to really bolster their work.She mentioned that has the honor and privilege of leading Walker’s Legacy, a springboard for black and brown women in business and the ecosystems that their growth fuels.Their goal is to cultivate a business ecosystem that is sustainable. It is known that when black and brown women start businesses, they do so with an inherent understanding that it is done for their communities and as generational legacy builders. These business owners do this work in systems that were not designed to support them.She elevated the fact that Walker’s Legacy will not do this work alone, there is an urgent interdependent collaboration required to drive this work forward. Through the organization’s partnerships, they work to deconstruct silos to provide entrepreneurs with culturally competent tools, resources, and capital stacks.Ms. Abrams mentioned that when we think of capital, we think of financial capital and technical training and support. But we also need to understand the social capital piece is equally important, and work to prevent gatekeeping.To date, Walker’s Legacy “has connected more than 1,000 black and brown women to more than $60 million in funding and more than $250 million in grants and contracts.” While Ms. Abrams expressed this is good, it is still not good enough, suggesting more must be done.She noted that social impact and profit should and will run in alignment as long as we keep supporting women of color in business, and also noted that Walker’s Legacy has the privilege of hosting a Minority Business Development Agency Center in Birmingham, AL.Throughout Black History Month, through her travels in Birmingham, AL, and in every aspect of her work, she has been reminded of black entrepreneurs and leaders who paved the way for change, including:
      • A.G. GastonMary Ellen PleasantBiddy MasonA’Lelia BundlesMadame C.J. Walker
      Through her work, Ms. Abrams has also been reminded that the Civil Rights Movement continues today. Now the movement has shifted to an economic civil rights movement, which we cannot forget.She emphasized again the importance investing in women of color who have been underfunded for decades. “It’s time we move on. We have the resources and intelligence.”Though historically, women of color have not been able to borrow money as often, the pandemic made apparent just how wide the economic gap remained, particularly for these women.She shared that women are special. “We give birth. Whether you give physical birth or birth ideas that spur innovation and creativity, we bring life into this world that gives life and fuels life.” She went on to opine that when women own businesses, this is a lever of change for generational wealth and entrepreneurship. When black and brown-owned businesses do well, our communities, families, and standing in the global economy are bolstered.She also shared that Walker’s Legacy is focused on ecosystem and coalition building by creating strategic partnerships like the Capital Ready Coalition, which was launched last year. This coalition was created through a partnership with 16 other national organizations who represent millions of black and brown women.Ms. Abrams also noted that economists have predicted that it will take black people 228 years to catch up to black wealth, but that measure should note be accepted.
    • As she closed, she asked how every person there could be a portal for access, serve as a conduit for change, speak up, and remain unapologetically bold in supporting black and brown women businesses.
    • She closed her remarks by emphasizing the importance of celebrating both Black History Month and this Council’s 35th Anniversary, noting her personal enthusiasm to see what “we as a collective will be able to deliver for American women.”

2022: A Year in Review with Council Member Selena Rodgers Dickerson

  • Council Member Selena Rodgers Dickerson shared an overview of the Council’s activities over the previous year through the framework of NWBC’s 2022 Annual Report. She then highlighted two recommendations from each of the Council’s policy subcommittees which may be found in the report. These recommendations included:
    • Access to Capital and Opportunity Policy Recommendations:
      • Recommendation #1: The Council encourages Congress and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to continue improving accessibility to all SBA lending programs by closely examining the needs and lived experiences of startup and scale-up women-owned small businesses, also ensuring there are no training prerequisites for any future loan program or financing opportunities. SBA should also continue its work reassessing lending criteria, product affordability, and innovative repayment flexibilities for current SBA loan programs.
      • Recommendation #2: NWBC urges Congress to work with SBA, other federal agencies, and the National Economic Council (NEC) to identify a higher and more appropriate WOSB/EDWOSB procurement goal above the current five percent goal, for example, to seven percent or higher.
    • Women in STEM Recommendations:
      • Recommendation #1: SBA should incentivize Women’s Business Center (WBC) grantees to partner with local universities and tech transfer offices to provide mentorship, idea-sharing on best practices, and opportunities for real-world work experience and application of insights.
      • Recommendation #2: Congress should expand the definition of “accelerator” to include the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC) industries in proposed legislation, for example in the Startup Opportunity Accelerator (SOAR) Act. Such proposed legislation should also prioritize women entrepreneurs.
    • Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship Recommendations:
      • Recommendation #1: The White House should identify the most appropriate federal agencies to further enhance outreach and education to small businesses on national PFML solutions. Additionally, the Council respectfully encourages Congress to hold new hearings to explore how a national PFML solution could potentially make U.S. small businesses more competitive at home and abroad.
      • Recommendation #2: The White House should develop a plan of action which would further empower SBA to improve and expand entrepreneurial development resources and affordable financing for the hardest hit childcare and care economy businesses, particularly in rural, rural/tribal, and other underserved communities.

2023: A Year in Preview with Executive Director Tené Dolphin

  • Executive Director Tené Dolphin remarked upon the priorities shared by President Biden during his State of the Union the previous evening. She contextualized the key takeaways as they aligned with NWBC’s vision for the years ahead: creating the next H.R. 5050.
  • She connected the President’s comments to how the Council might ensure women are part of rebuilding the supply chain in America and directly connected it to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, expanding upon last year’s recommendation.
  • Separately, Executive Director Dolphin also expressed how pinpointing the elements of the lending criteria that continue to serve as barriers for women may be worth examining.   
  • She also emphasized the importance of building a coalition to advance this work.

Research Docket with Council Member Shakenna Williams

  • Council Member Shakenna Williams began by sharing a brief sampling of recent years’ NWBC commissioned research and reports including:
    • NWBC’s Interagency Agreement with the U.S. Census Bureau to develop custom tabulations on women-owned employer and nonemployer firms, by gender and demographics, which utilized data from both the Annual Business Survey (ABS) and the Nonemployer Statistics by Demographics (NES-D) series. These custom tabulations were featured in NWBC’s 2021 Annual Report.
    • Additionally, in August 2020, together with SBA’s Office of Investment and Innovation (OII), NWBC commissioned a report titled: “America’s Seed Fund” Women’s Inclusion in Small Business Innovation Research & Small Business Technology Transfer Programs”
  • She then pivoted to the Council’s research docket for fiscal year 2023, and the next several years, which are included in our policy recommendations. These recommendations on research state that:
    • “NWBC [will look to] conduct a landscape analysis in fiscal year 2023 to better assess the effectiveness of current entrepreneurial ecosystems, technical assistance capacity, local governance issues, and the “brain drain” impacting rural Women-owned small businesses (WOSB) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB) growth.” The intention is that the study also “identify effective program models to improve engagement of women entrepreneurs in tribal and immigrant communities.”
    • “NWBC should commission research focusing on both high yield (STEM) and high growth industries (currently AEC), as well as industries with an overrepresentation of women but with undervaluation (healthcare).”
  • Council Member Shakenna Williams concluded her remarks by highlighting key numbers, sources, and collaborators included in the Council’s 2022 Annual Report. These highlights included:
    • The use of 2020 U.S. Census Bureau and National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, together with 2019 and 2018 data from the Annual Business Survey. Insightful datapoints worth mentioning are that:
      • “Women contribute substantially to entrepreneurship in the United States. The number of women-owned businesses has increased significantly in recent years. In 2019 (the latest data available), there were 5.7 million employer businesses [total], where women accounted for 1.2 million or 20.9% of these businesses.”
      • “Women-owned firms employed 10.8 million workers in 2019 and grew their workforce by 28%, more than double that of men-owned firms (10.8%) between 2012 and 2019.”
      • “Women-owned nonemployer firms totaled 10.9 million in 2018, a share of 41% of all nonemployer businesses in the U.S. These businesses generated $1.3 trillion in revenue, where women accounted for $299.7 billion of these receipts.”
    • This year’s Annual Report “By The Numbers” section, which captures the state of affairs during the past year, and what may lie ahead during the next few … based on research findings from Dr. Adji Fatou Diagne, a research economist with the Center for Economic Studies at the U.S. Census Bureau.
    • That section also featured a discussion on the dynamics at play in venture capital for women founders, investors, and fund managers, based on the work of Geri Stengel, President of Ventureneer. Her analysis was conducted as part of a report entitled “How Women (and Men) Invest In Startups,” which was produced by Ventureneer and CoreWoman, and commissioned by How Women Invest.

Panel Discussion

  • A panel was moderated by Council Member Jenny Poon, Founder/CEO of CO+HOOTS and HUUB. Featured panelists included:
    • Julie Castro Abrams, CEO and Chair, How Women Lead (HWL)/How Women Invest (HWI)
    • Candace Waterman, President & CEO, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)
    • Maxwell Young, Director of Communications, 1863 Ventures
  • Following the panelists’ introductions, Council Member Jenny Poon led the panel through the following questions. with paraphrased responses shared below:
    • Moderator Jenny Poon: In our 2022 Annual Report, we recommended that more attention be given to supporting women business owners pursuing opportunities at the federal, state, and local level. Where do you see the potential opportunities and obstacles for women working to contract with the government?
      • Candace Waterman: There are contracts that need to be put in the hands of our women-owned small businesses. Aditi (Senior Advisory Dussault) was transparent about the government failing to meet the 5% WOSB contracting goal. Credit to SBA, which has had conversations focused on solutions. WIPP has been instrumental in getting an increase in that goal, which will be done through a phased approach. There wouldn’t be a WOSB federal contracting goal without WIPP’s participation as a voice at the table. Now we need transparency, accountability, and parity in resources with other socioeconomic statuses; we need to be on the same playing field. WOSB and 8(a) have similar criteria and we should be looking at them in similar ways. We should be focusing on the access, parity and equality in government contracting. Women are in every area of this country providing everything, we have high growth women in every area so to say that “we couldn’t find them…?” To make this change, we need to partner because collaboration is key. We have to ensure we’re closing that gap from a contracting and capital perspective.
      • Maxwell Young: Cracking the code, how do we better illustrate the requirements needed so people can enter the contracting space? When we think about solutions, we can consider private-public partnerships relating to education.
    • Moderator Poon: This process can be arduous, so digging into that would be helpful. I want to jump quickly around to traditional funding. We discussed loans and venture capital, but have you seen any new ways of funding?
      • Maxwell Young: Really want to focus on the cues at the city and state level. For instance, in D.C., thinking about the Inclusive Innovation Equity Impact Fund started by Mayor Bowser in 2022, 1863 Ventures is privileged to administer this fund. It invests in small businesses in D.C. generating revenue less than $2 million. New York state have created seed fund programs too. These initiatives are private partnerships with public administrations can be extremely valuable. These relationships with banks and VC funds are necessary for creating generational wealth. This access to capital is important to leveling the playing field.
      • Julie Castro Abrams: We talked about some of it, Latinas that have the same credit score and assets and apply for loans only obtain loans about 60% of the time, as compared to white men. We have an inequitable system and need dramatic change. CDFIs are amazing and only get a tiny portion of the funding they need to meet the demand. We have several structures in place where if we just added more funding or tweaked things, removing some of the requirements around assets and credit ratings … these structures were created before we entered the game.
    • Moderator Poon: A lot of cities have converted these programs into zero interest loans for small business. Creating sustainability for these programs could be something worth exploring. We’ve also heard about education, financial literacy, and planning, which are valuable pieces of the puzzle. Women can get stuck in a loop around these steps. Some of these steps are just based on the idea of having more education and don’t address the inequalities. How can we simultaneously support women in these stages while thinking about the systems that need to be changed?
      • Candace Waterman: Women of color are over-mentored and underfunded, we know that. Are we having the proper conversation around education? Are we getting out the application and considering how we show up? We have to sit down and make someone understand the value of our business the same way they value that of our male counterparts, the value of whose businesses aren’t questioned. The statistics are all over the place. For women of color, we get less money than we ask for. To my businesses of color, we suffered during PPP and EIDL from application anxiety, counting ourselves out before walking through the door. We played in our mind, “we are not worthy enough, we don’t have what it takes.” We must show up and show grit. We’ve heard “no” before and know that “no” means new opportunity. That’s the education conversation we have to have, it’s quality over quantity. There needs to be more people in the room but we also have to consider smaller cohorts with more solutions. We also must stop playing the victim, because there have been success stories in access to capital for women. We know the divides but let’s have flip that narrative from victim to victor.
      • Julie Castro Abrams: When women and people of color bang their heads against the wall time and time again, of course they’re not going to take the time to fill out the forms just to be told “no” again. We want people to know that they are invited in and we are committed to breaking down barriers.
    • Moderator: Sounds like we might need some entrepreneurial therapy, someone should make an app for that. A lot of this comes from a history of discrimination. Going backwards, how do we make STEM entrepreneurship more inclusive when it comes to race, gender, geographies for the next generation?
      • Maxwell Young: It’s about normalizing the curiosity in STEM that is prevalent, this can be cultivated early on. Thinking about some of the portfolio companies 1863 Ventures have invested in, they’re developing STEM education kits for students. Being able to amplify interests and create real world applications for children across all ages sparks that interest in what STEM can provide as a profession. I’m proud that we not only invest in STEM companies, but that they are tackling the challenge of engaging the next generation in STEM learning and STEM careers.
    • Moderator: Where might the government play a role in this issue?
      • Candace Waterman: Looking at the Office of Investment and Innovation, SBA has spaces for innovative ideas and funding these ideas. We have executive orders that are supportive of this. The landscape is there, we just need to show up for it, and not be afraid of being a disruptor or of failing. For the next generation, teaching them how to get over the hurdles rather than hiding the hurdles from them and learning from our mistakes is valuable, as is helping the next woman that is sitting next to you. We get further faster together.
    • Moderator: Empowered women empower women. Pivoting to rural women’s entrepreneurship, what makes the journey of entrepreneurs in rural communities unique? What challenges should we address moving forward?
      • Julie Castro Abrams: Selling is easier in urban communities. Technology infrastructure is critical for moving forward. How are we making sure rural women have access to the tools, understand how to build tech companies, and getting the fuel to seize high growth opportunities? We saw people starting businesses in urban areas and then moving to rural communities during COVID-19. Regardless of the industry, we have to make sure the infrastructure is there.
      • Candace Waterman: I would add that this is around policy too. Access to affordable broadband is critical, we need technology to enable everything we do, COVID-19 taught us this and policy can support this. Thanks to the infrastructure bill (Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, BIL), the helpers who needed help themselves, have gotten support—from a policy perspective, this boils down to access and affordability.
      • Maxwell Young: More research and data are always needed. There isn’t enough research and data around what women businesses owners, and business owners of color, need with respect to access to capital and networks. That is even more pronounced in rural settings—the data needed to actually address and solve problems.
      • Julie Castro Abrams: One important learning is that for those creating a company in an urban environment, a variety of grants and loans are more easily available. Often, rural communities may be missing critical information and access. The amount of growth in a community is directly impacted by these women entrepreneurs because they are buying locally and hiring people. It is very important to start fueling people so they can grow.
    • What about the ecosystem? How do entrepreneurial ecosystems get grown in rural communities? And what is the role of government in these spaces?
      • Candace: When you go back to government, it’s private-public partnerships. It’s an “and” not an “or.” When we see these things happen, we see success stories. Main Streets, MLK and Chavez Boulevards need our assistance and it’s about banding together, looking at the data to consider needs, and from a corporate/government perspective, closing the gap in perception between what we think these businesses need and what they actually need.
    • What does tomorrow look like for small town America and how can these communities best prepare for what lies ahead?
      • Julie: To me, it’s putting us in the decision-making table. I don’t want to ask anyone else for permission anymore, you need to be running the banks and making decisions in communities. We all have inherent bias and if we’re not in charge, we’ll always get the short end of the stick. There’s no amount of D&I training that’s going to make someone look at me and change their cultural bias. Men are hired for their potential, women are hired for what they’ve done. Until women are evaluating women and investing in women, we’re going to continue getting the short end of the stick.
      • Candace: Show up, be bold, be unapologetic and tell your story. Telling stories is where people learn. Talk to each other so we can band these voices together for sustainable change. Understand the intersectionality between business and policy, take politics out, let’s talk about policy and how we create sustainable solutions for our businesses.
      • Maxwell: On the topic of sustainability, we’re seeing environmental issues coming up across sectors. We also need to consider sustainability of humanity, there has to be a level of humane practices for black people, women, people of color, as we discuss creating our own spaces, space is such a real estate issue. Creating space for people to explore themselves, professions, career, passions in entrepreneurship is important and can only be done through access to capital. Supporting women, the new majority, the space for capital is persistent. When we think about the history, the flow of venture capital has decreased over the past year. The 228-year mark needs to be shrunk, and we need public-private partnerships to accelerate the closure of the wealth gap. The future is continued access to capital, money talks and needs to flow from the SBA, non-profits, VCs, and we need to continue working together to connect the dots.

Public Comments

Public Comments & Questions with Responses

  • Executive Director Tené Dolphin moderated public comments.
  • The first comment came from Imani Samuels, who asked about the appetite for supporting rest for entrepreneurs at the federal level and how can we advance that mission and philosophy?
    • Executive Director Dolphin: We always go to one extreme when we talk about mental health. Mental health is about addressing your well-being. Solutions at the federal, state, and local levels would be beneficial and welcomed.
    • Candace Waterman: WIPP started a program “Mind, Body, Business.” The first session was around mental health. WIPP also has a monthly fitness program. We literally say fill your cup. Around the government and corporate spaces, quite a few organizations have mindfulness business units where they support self-care. Business owners may want to think about that for your employees because they emulate what owners do. You must be the change you want to see.
    • Samantha Abrams: It’s a top-down culture we must see. Rest and respite are necessary. As someone who wears a lot of titles—as a mom, a wife, a friend—I like to use language like work-life integration. I take time for me because I want to be whole for my team. It’s a cultural shift that we all have to embody and challenge ourselves and friends on this. When we go so fast, we miss the messages and miss the people who need our support. We need to challenge ourselves and our governments, for example, thinking about paid leave for parenting and caring for others. Caring in America across cultures look different. Black and brown people care for their elders at home. How are we thinking about this from a culturally competent and sensitive perspective?
    • Julie Castro Abrams: Deepa Purushothaman worked at Deloitte and hit a health crisis wall. After doing some research, she found that women of color have 60% higher health care crises related to the cost of showing up to work. We’ve got to create less hostile environments and structures. We put it all on black and brown women to solve things themselves, when it’s the structures that are the problem.
  • Melody Jackson from Hello Alice commented that they have a strong network of women entrepreneurs. Hello Alice has information on a variety of topics mentioned, and the organization has the capability to reach out to those we need answers from.

Special Recognition

  • Senior Policy Advisor Sandra Pedroarias delivered brief remarks on behalf of NWBC in recognition of Council Member Maria Rios’ three years of service on the Council.

Closing Remarks

  • Executive Director/DFO Tené Dolphin thanked all Council Members, guests, and the public for joining and adjourned the meeting at 12:45 p.m. ET.

The slides used during the event can be downloaded below.