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By: Sandra Pedroarias, NWBC Senior Policy Advisor

Without question, women business owners are a force to be reckoned with and their resiliency will certainly drive America’s economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic. Just as female founders led on-the-ground recovery efforts in Puerto Rico following a series of natural disasters, so too are women business owners on the U.S. mainland on the frontlines of combatting and responding to this global pandemic.  

As the country looks to gradually reopen the economy, it is vital that female founders have the tools and resources necessary to navigate the pandemic and continue to grow their businesses in the coming years.  Notably, according to some pre-pandemic projections, there were as much as 13 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., employing just short of 10 million workers and generating almost $2 trillion in revenue.

Despite these numbers, women business owners have traditionally faced unique obstacles to accessing funding—to start and grow a business or access relief and stay operational in times of crisis. For this reason, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC)—a federal advisory committee that serves as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the President, the U.S. Congress, and to the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration—launched a Roundtable Series convening women entrepreneurs from across the country to learn about their experiences at the ground level.

This year started not much differently than the last for NWBC. The Council re-branded its signature initiative—the ‘Let’s Talk Business’ Roundtable Series—announcing six planned for 2020. The first took place on February 27th in San Juan, Puerto Rico, just as the Island again faced the ominous task of recovery from another set of natural disasters—the recent earthquakes that rocked its residents and their economy.

While the coronavirus pandemic forced postponement of the remainder of these roundtables, the prescient conversations had in San Juan almost three months ago could not have been timelier.  The topics ranging from financial literacy, access to capital, ‘Opportunity Zones’, and most relevant disaster planning and financial preparedness, foreshadowed the impending health and economic crisis that the U.S. and world community would soon have to grapple.

The most noteworthy exchanges were inspiring and insightful, highlighting the key role that women entrepreneurs and business owners played in the Island’s economic recovery.  As one female founder, whose company provides freight and transportation logistics solutions on the Island shared, “Hurricane [Maria] created an incentive to push Puerto Rico forward.” Her company was in fact one of the first responders following the hurricane, providing its temperature-controlled warehouses to store medication and ensuring that medicine was getting to the most vulnerable—even in the most rural and remote areas of the island.

Another woman entrepreneur echoed similar sentiments. She herself, a roofing manufacturer, shared that women business owners on the Island immediately formed a “business emergency group,” playing an integral role in providing immediate emergency infrastructure support to those affected by the disaster.

Annie Mayol, the President and CEO of the Foundation for Puerto Rico, shared best practices for organizations that support small businesses in post-disaster recovery situations. She underscored that the key to supporting small business centered on providing individualized technical assistance, as well as increasing and diversifying access to capital opportunities—including more affordable loans such as microloans. Nonetheless, the single most important issue that must be addressed during an economic recovery is that of mental resiliency. Support networks that address the importance of resiliency are key to ensuring that more businesses remain open in the long-term.

In other words, access to capital and assistance must be provided hand-in-hand with counseling and mentoring so that business owners have the tools and resources, but also the confidence, to sustain their enterprise and pay back the loan.  “You know, some of the women are so reluctant to take loans and without the right support and technical assistance, it can be a daunting task,” Ms. Mayol retold.

Certainly, the learnings extrapolated from our recent roundtable in Puerto Rico are critical. As women business owners drive economic recovery efforts at home—whether through business or philanthropic efforts—NWBC remains dedicated to redoubling its efforts to remove common barriers for female founders and have more conversations around eliminating some of the false or limiting beliefs that can undermine women entrepreneurs’ resiliency.

Like women entrepreneurs in Puerto Rico, those on the mainland can and will recalibrate—and undoubtedly reposition themselves as the drivers of economic recovery.

Nina Roque, Executive Director of the National Women’s Business Council offers the National Women’s Business Council and the Association of Women’s Business Centers as possible hotspots for training, mentoring, business development and financing opportunities. According to Roque, Latina entrepreneurs account for 17 percent of the total of women-owned businesses across the United States. “On average, Latinas start about 401 new business per day!” she shares.

By: Kathryn Rudloff

As we start a pandemic-impacted school year, my thoughts are with the thousands of moms who work or run a business from home. While there is no doubt that COVID-19 is affecting every person, it is hitting entrepreneurial moms with a double whammy.

There are about 13 million companies owned by women in the United States, according to the National Women’s Business Council’s 2019 annual report. However, only 1.1 million are employer firms, meaning the vast majority of women-owned businesses in America are sole proprietorships, or one-person companies.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Temren Wroge
202-738-3523
Temren.Wroge@sba.gov


The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) announces its first public meeting with its newly-installed Council members on Friday, May 17, 2019, from 9:30AM to 12:30PM EST at the Women Presidents’ Organization Headquarters in New York, New York.

At this meeting, the new Council will share its vision and priorities for the remainder of the fiscal year. Each of the Council’s three subcommittees: Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship, Women in S.T.E.M., and Access to Capital & Opportunity will present their current priorities and initiatives to the full body and the public. The Council’s Small Business Roundtable Series will also be announced.

The meeting is open to the public; however, advance notice of attendance is requested. To RSVP or submit a written comment, the general public should email Ashley Judah at Ashley.Judah@sba.gov with subject line – “Response for 5/17/19 Public Meeting.” The agenda will allow for 20 minutes of public statements. This time will be awarded in 4-minute increments to the first 5 people who confirm attendance and request to speak. All other submitted statements will be included in the meeting record.

A conference line will also be available for those unable to attend the meeting in person. Please call 1-208-391-5817 at the aforementioned event time. When prompted, enter conference ID number: 93326369. For more information, please visit the NWBC website at www.nwbc.gov or call 202-205-3850.

WASHINGTON, D.C., May 16, 2019 – The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) announces its first public meeting with its newly-installed Council members on Friday, May 17, 2019, from 9:30AM to 12:30PM EST at The Women Presidents’ Organization Headquarters in New York, NY.

At this meeting, the new Council will share its vision and priorities for the remainder of the fiscal year. Each of the Council’s three subcommittees: Rural Women’s Entrepreneurship, Women in S.T.E.M., and Access to Capital & Opportunity will present their current priorities and initiatives to the full body and the public. The Council’s Small Business Roundtable Series will also be announced.

The meeting is open to the public; however, advance notice of attendance is requested. To RSVP or submit a written comment, the general public should email Ashley Judah at Ashley.Judah@sba.gov with subject line – “Response for 5/17/19 Public Meeting.” The agenda will allow for 20 minutes of public statements. This time will be awarded in 4-minute increments to the first 5 people who confirm attendance and request to speak. All other submitted statements will be included in the meeting record.

A conference line will also be available for those unable to attend the meeting in person. Please call 1-208-391-5817 at the aforementioned event time. When prompted, enter conference ID number: 93326369. For more information, please visit the NWBC website at www.nwbc.gov or call 202-205-3850.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Temren Wroge
202-738-3523
Temren.Wroge@sba.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C., January 30, 2020 – Today, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) announced a Women’s Business Center (WBC) grant opportunity in the Los Angeles area. This comes as part of an SBA priority to open more doors for women entrepreneurs and increase access to SBA resources in underserved communities.


Earlier this month, SBA also announced a WBC grant opportunity in the state of Maryland. NWBC Council Member Shelonda Stokes attended the roundtable to discuss the upcoming funding opportunity in Baltimore, MD.


“The National Women’s Business Council is encouraged that SBA has chosen Morgan State University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) and my alma mater, as the venue to announce a funding opportunity for a new WBC,” said Shelonda Stokes. “Underserved communities and rural areas are lacking in adequate resources for women business owners and entrepreneurs to start and grow their enterprise. It is important that the SBA is working to find ways to connect women to the resources that programs like Women’s Business Centers offer.”

NWBC expressed the following WBC-related recommendations in its 2019 Annual Report:

WBC Grant Allocation

  • SBA should consult with the AWBC when announcing a new WBC funding opportunity and conduct a national market scan to determine sustainable grant opportunities.
  • SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership should allocate any supplementary grant money to high performing WBCs for the specific purpose of providing accessible, offsite trainings in underserved rural communities.
  • The Council recommends that SBA avoid the overcrowding of agency resources in certain urban areas and give first priority for WBC grants to rural communities identified in the market scan. According to the most recent data available, Mississippi and West Virginia are among the top 10 most rural states and do not have WBC grants. These states should have first consideration.

WBC Economic Impact Data

  • Congressionally mandated economic impact data should also include —the average duration of assistance to clients, regions in which the new concerns are located, and whether the women served plan to continue to operate and invest in that specific community.
  • The measure of a WBC’s reach (the number of women served) should be scaled relative to the capabilities, circumstances, and population in that region.
  • SBA should be required to share available WBC data with AWBC and the public.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Temren Wroge
202-738-3523
Temren.Wroge@sba.gov

Washington, D.C. – (June 15, 2020) – The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is partnering with the Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) for a webinar on financial literacy.

The webinar will take place Wednesday, June 17, 2020 from 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM EDT.

It will include an in-depth conversation with Bonnie Nawara, NWBC Council Member and CEO of Grand Rapids Opportunities for Women (GROW); Klassi Duncan, Director of Women Business Resource Center, Urban League of Louisiana; and David Ramos, Community Affairs Specialist for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC).

“This is a critical time to help underserved entrepreneurs prepare for recovery by taking full advantage of free and tested financial literacy resources,” said Liz Sara, Chair, NWBC. “As women business owners and entrepreneurs across the country adjust to the new normal, it is paramount that they are better prepared to access the funding they need to not only save their business, but also ultimately grow it.”

They will discuss the importance of the ‘Money Smart for Small Business’ program and curriculum—a collaborative business development initiative between SBA and FDIC. The participants will also examine how to leverage the curriculum, and other federal resources, to help eliminate disparities in underserved communities and build generational wealth.

“Women’s Business Centers understand the necessity of financial literacy for women business owners to be successful, and the network of 150+ locations nationwide offer a variety of programs to suit their client and community needs,” said AWBC CEO Corinne Hodges. “The Money Smart program is used by many Women’s Business Centers and provides a solid foundation for what women need in life and in business.”

This conversation will also feature remarks from Allen Gutierrez, Associate Administrator of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). He will provide key insights on SBA’s efforts surrounding financial literacy and education and its importance in the small business community.

NWBC’s #WebinarWednesday is a monthly, multi-series webinar that serves as a platform for women entrepreneurs and business owners to connect them to key advocates, experts, and useful resources that can help bolster their knowledge and skills and elevate their entrepreneurial potential. At NWBC, we will continue to prioritize this challenge and strive to make inroads for women-owned businesses in starting and growing their business. The Council regularly convenes women business owners and entrepreneurs from across the country to connect their voices to policymakers in Washington, D.C.


About National Women’s Business Council

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is a non-partisan federal advisory committee created to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. To learn more, please visit: www.NWBC.gov

About The Association of Women Business Centers

AWBC is a national non-profit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 1998.  The AWBC works to secure economic justice and entrepreneurial opportunities for women by supporting and sustaining a national network of over 100 Women’s Business Centers (WBCs). WBCs help women succeed in business by providing training, mentoring, business development and financing opportunities to over 150,000 women entrepreneurs each year.

Contact:
Jordan Chapman
202-941-6001
Jordan.Chapman@sba.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (April 25, 2022) – The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), announced today that it will hold a virtual public meeting on Tuesday, May 3, 2022, from 12:30 PM to 2:30 PM EDT. 

The meeting will provide Council Members as well as members of the public the opportunity to hear from experts and women’s business organizations directly about the issues that matter most to women entrepreneurs. The insights gained from this discussion will serve as a springboard for future policy recommendations.

The Council encourages public comment and feedback. Responses can be submitted through the Eventbrite registration page or by emailing info@nwbc.gov with any comments, though all responses must be submitted by April 27th.

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About National Women’s Business Council

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is a non-partisan federal advisory committee created to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. To learn more, please visit: www.NWBC.gov

Contact:
Jordan Chapman
202-941-6001
Jordan.Chapman@sba.gov

WASHINGTON, D.C. – (December 6, 2022) – The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) announced today that it will hold a public meeting on Wednesday, February 8, 2023, from 10:00 AM to 12:00 PM EDT. 

The event will be hybrid, with virtual attendees viewing the event over Zoom. For those attending in person, it will be held at the U.S. Small Business Administration Headquarters (409 3rd St. SW, Washington, DC 20416) in Eisenhower Conference Room B on the Concourse Level.

This meeting will allow Council Members to review what was accomplished during 2022 and preview what may be accomplished during 2023. The event will include guest speakers and will enable Council Members to respond to a selection of questions and comments from the public.

The Council encourages public comment and feedback. Responses can be submitted through the Eventbrite registration page or by emailing info@nwbc.gov with any comments, though all responses must be submitted by January 31st.

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About National Women’s Business Council

The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is a non-partisan federal advisory committee created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on issues of importance to women business owners. To learn more, please visit: www.NWBC.gov