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Working Together to Change the Business Climate for Women Entrepreneurs


In January of 2015, the National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) released their Annual Report which included a set of policy recommendations for the White House, Congress and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to improve the business climate and opportunities for women. Last week, Carla Harris, the Presidentially-appointed Chair of the NWBC, visited key leaders and policy makers in Washington, DC to discuss the Council’s Annual Report and identify synergies and opportunities for collaboration on the 2015 agenda.

“As an independent advisory council to the White House, Congress and the SBA, we are honored to have the opportunity to not just share our findings with our key customers, but align and collaborate on our agenda,” said Carla Harris, Chair of the NWBC.

The Council’s 2015 agenda includes: tax credits for investors who finance women-owned and women-led firms; strategies to encourage women in the STEM fields; increased access to affordable childcare; greater participation in accelerators and incubator programs; successful entrée to supplier diversity programs; strategies to increase the number of women who pursue careers in finance; the effective implementation of sole source authority for the Woman-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program, which passed in the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act.

While in the nation’s capital, Harris met with key leaders and policy makers. This included: a meeting with Tina Tchen Assistant to President Barack Obama, Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama, and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, to discuss synergies with the Council on Women and Girls and the President’s agenda more broadly; a meeting with Senator David Vitter, the new Chairman of the Senate Small Business and Entrepreneurship Committee, to formally present the Annual Report, preview the agenda, and solicit input from the Senator and the full Senate Committee on the Council’s FY2015 research agenda; a meeting with senior staffers from Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s office to discuss the Senator’s legislative agenda and priorities for this new Congress, particularly those priorities related to affordable childcare and paid family medical leave; and a meeting with SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet to continue conversations about strategies to increase diversity in the SBA’s SBIC program, and other financing opportunities, and implement the new laws governing the WOSB program. Harris also spoke with leaders of the women’s business community and other stakeholders while in Washington, DC.

The whirlwind tour ended with a meeting with key SBA staffers to share highlights from the Council’s Annual Report and discuss points of collaboration with the SBA on specific agenda items this year. Harris was joined by Council Members Pamela Prince-Eason, Magdalah Racine-Silva and Rose Wang for this briefing.

“It was a very productive set of meetings and made clear to us that women’s business leadership and economic participation is a political priority for many stakeholders. I look forward to future events with Senator Vitter and Senator Gillibrand in their home states and to collaborate with the Council on Women and Girls to truly inspire, engage and impact women entrepreneurs. It is also inspiring to see the action being taken by the SBA led by the Administrator to work on some of our broader goals to increase access, resources and trainings for women small business owners and the expedited implementation of the sole source provision,” said Amanda Brown, Executive Director of the Council.

The NWBC’s FY2014 Annual Report, “Building Bridges: Leveraging Research and Relationships to Impact the Business Climate for Women,” is an overview of women in entrepreneurship, including a summary of key research findings, policy recommendations, and the Council’s agenda in the year ahead. You can download the full report here: https://www.nwbc.gov/research/building-bridges-leveraging-research-and-r...

ABOUT THE NWBC:  The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is a non-partisan federal advisory council created to serve as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners.