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National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) Support the Women’s Small Business Ownership Act

In honor of Women’s Small Business Month and the anniversary of the passage of H.R. 5050, the Women’s Business Ownership Act that led the way to the creation of the National Women’s Business Council in 1988, Council Members are calling on Congress to vote in support of pending legislation that would help women who are trying to start their own business.


“While we celebrate the advances in the economic climate for women entrepreneurs, our research shows that women still face major barriers to accessing appropriate counseling, contracts, and capital,” said Carla Harris, the Presidentially appointed chair of the NWBC. “If passed, this bill will open more doors and better equip women in their business ventures.”


The Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014, first introduced by Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship Maria Cantwell (D-WA), proposes three specific ways to support women entrepreneurs:


Small Business Counseling: This legislation would increase resources for counseling and training services to help reach more women entrepreneurs. It would reauthorize the Women’s Business Center program through 2019 and nearly double the annual funding these centers could receive. According to reports, Women’s Business Centers assist 130, 000 clients annually and helped women access more $25 million in capital last year. These organizations have not received funding since 1999. 


Small Business Contracting: This legislation would allow sole source federal contracts to be awarded to women-owned small businesses, placing women-owned businesses on equal footing with other disadvantaged groups. The legislation hopes to help the Federal government meet its goal of awarding 5 percent of contracts to women-owned small businesses – a goal which has never been reached.


Access to Capital: This bill would expand and improve the SBA Microloan Program and reach more women borrowers who need business loans of up to $50, 000. The bill would allow Microloan lenders to increase their lending capacity from $5 million to $7 million and improve the program to better meet borrowers’ needs. It would also reauthorize the SBA Intermediary Lending program to provide more women access to loans between $50,000 and $200,000 and help fill the gap that is currently unmet by traditional private lending.


“Numbers speak volumes, and the economic impact of women-led and -owned businesses is estimated at nearly $3 trillion and more than 23 million jobs,” said Amanda Brown, Executive Director of NWBC, “The data confirms that women small business owners are the fastest growing segment of the economy. When we increase the opportunity for women entrepreneurs to launch and grow their businesses, there’s no doubt that we will see a measurable return on investment for our country.” It’s important for Congress to stand with us in support of women small business owners and prospective owners across the country.”


The Council Members will be calling their legislators, and asking them to join as a cosponsor and champion of the Women Small Business Ownership Act.  Letters will follow in the coming weeks. The Council is fully committed to sole source authority, the reauthorization and funding of the Women’s Business Center program, reauthorization of the SBA Intermediary Lending program, expansion of the SBA Microloan program – and will be calling on Congress to stand with us in support of women entrepreneurs and job creation across the country.