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The National Women’s Business Council (NWBC) is honored to present the NWBC 2023 Annual Report, which captures all of the engagement opportunities, research initiatives, notable legislation and resiliency resources the Council connected with over the past year. As always, the highlight of the report is the rich and in-depth policy recommendations section. In 2024, NWBC remained focused on access to capital and opportunity and women in STEM, though broadened its view on rural women’s entrepreneurship to bring more women to the table by shifting to prioritizing inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems. The 2023 Annual Report not only features tailored recommendations and targeted policy levers to make an impact in the areas above, but also uplifts stories from key voices in women’s entrepreneurship. We are proud to be able to share these recommendations with the White House, Congress, and the Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988, PL 100-533, was signed into law by President Reagon on October 25, 1988. This landmark legislation was the result of many hearings held by the House Small Business Committee, under the leadership of Rep. John LaFalce, designed to examine the status of women business owners and their role in our nation’s economy.

Testimony at those hearings helped to define the problems and suggest some solutions to the pressing issues facing women business owners. A number of significant new programs and changes in law were implemented with the passage of PL 100-533.

National Women’s Business Council 1990 Annual Report to the President and Congress

National Women’s Business Council 1991 Annual Report to the President and Congress.

National Women’s Business Council 1992 Annual Report to the President and Congress

National Women’s Business Council 1993 Annual Report to the President and Congress.

National Women’s Business Council 1994 Annual Report to the President and Congress.

My colleagues and I are pleased to have worked closely this past year with the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise.

The partnership which the National Women’s Business Council has enjoyed with our Administration colleagues on the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise is the foundation for the greater involvement that we envision for women entrepreneurs in setting the economic agenda for the nation.

Our economy has been revitalized in good measure because of the participation and contributions of women business owners. The new Census data describe an inexorable wave of women entrepreneurs that are changing the face of the economy.

In starting and growing our businesses we are not only adding significantly to the GDP. Women have fashioned a business model that is flexible, streamlined, and “friendly.” This model is shaping the character of the new economy, as well as the changing workforce. Our challenges now include making financial institutions, policymakers, and others who hold the keys to opportunity, aware of the enormous contribution women-owned businesses make to the economy. We must also make women aware of the opportunities available through business ownership -and assist women in gaining the knowledge and skills necessary to grow their businesses successfully.

The report describes partnerships that have already been forged and point the way to future collaborations. The efforts of women business owners can be greatly leveraged by those in government who shape economic policy.
It is an honor to serve and work with the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise. We look forward to working with the Administration and the Congress to transform the good ideas and progress reflected in this report into new opportunities for women entrepreneurs.

Lillian Vernon
Chair, National Women’s Business Council Chairman and
Chief Executive Officer, Lillian Vernon Corporation

The National Women’s Business Council, a bi-partisan Federal government advisory panel, was created by Congress in 1988 [Public Law 100-533]. The Council serves as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, the Congress, and the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise, its public sector counterpart on economic issues of importance to women business owners.

The members of the National Women’s Business Council are prominent women business owners and leaders of national women’s business organizations. The mission of the Council is to promote bold initiatives, policies and programs designed to support women’s business enterprises at all stages of development both in the public and private sector marketplaces.
The Council and the Interagency Committee have effectively established a public/private sector partnership to promote an economic environment conducive to business growth and development for women-owned businesses and have focused on four key areas of program and policy development:

  • Expanding public and private market opportunities for women-owned business;
  • Conducting and promoting research and data collection to create a comprehensive profile of the women’s business sector and public awareness of this profile;
  • Strengthening the training, technical assistance, mentoring and networking infrastructure that serves the women’s business sector; and
  • Expanding and ensuring access to capital and credit resources for women business owners.

To the President and Members of Congress:

My colleagues and I are pleased to transmit the 1998 Annual Report of the National Women’s Business Council. This report includes important findings from research conducted by the Council on access to Federal and commercial contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses.

As you know, the Council was reauthorized last year and most of the appointees to the Council, including myself, are serving for the first time. We are honored to be given this opportunity to advocate for the interests of the most dynamic and fastest growing segment of our nation’s economy. We have much to celebrate about the economic accomplishments of women-owned business, yet we recognize that there is much work to be done to address the capital and business development needs of the nation’s 8 million women business owners.

Women mean big business. With the assistance of the Congress, the President and other elected, appointed and corporate-sector leaders, we must build bridges between women entrepreneurs and the public and private sources of capital and contracts. Now is time to begin making the investment in the tools that will assist women to sustain and grow their enterprises.

In addition to the findings of the Council’s research, this report describes the activities of the Council from the date we were sworn in by the Vice President in June 1998. We have also included a digest of all the Council’s recommendations presented since its inception in 1988. We are pleased to note that many of these recommendations have been adopted through legislative and administrative action. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to implement the remaining recommendations as well as the newest offerings pertaining to increasing competitive contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses.

Kay Koplovitz