Fiscal Year 2006 was one of transition and growth for the National Women’s Business Council. Over the course of the year, eight Council members completed their terms and five new women joined the Council. Together, the members of the Council worked throughout the year to promote policies and programs designed to support women’s entrepreneurship.
The Council chose to focus on communications and outreach, initiating many new programs and projects to expand the Council’s ability to reach the women’s business community, policymakers and other target audiences. In addition to holding two Council meetings, the National Women’s Business Council produced several research reports, host- ed a Web cast on policy priorities of women business owners and several issue-based conference calls, and communicated broadly with the women’s business and policy communities. Members of the Council spoke on behalf of the Council and Council staff participated in numerous of intergovernmental and organizational meetings. For the third year, the Council was called on by the International Council for Small Business to support and judge the Best Paper Award for Women’s Entrepreneurship.
Based on research conducted during the year, numerous discussions with the women’s business community at conferences, a Web cast and conference calls, meetings and round tables, the National Women’s Business Council makes the following recommendations to the President, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration:
Access to Federal and International Procurement Markets – The Council encourages continued aggressive efforts to increase access for women-owned firms in federal contracting, including stronger efforts to reach the five percent goal for women-owned small businesses. As part of this goal, the Council suggests providing adequate funding to Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization in the federal agencies.
Access to Capital – The Council believes that Federal programs, such as the SBA’s Small Business Investment Company program, should increase their outreach to women business owners. The Council also encourages policymakers to support private and nonprofit programs offering capital funding to help women-owned small businesses to reach new milestones.
Access to Health Care – NWBC urges policymakers to address the escalating costs faced by women business owners seeking to provide health care to their employees and supports policy efforts to assist women business owners in improving coverage options for themselves and their employees.
Access to Training/Technical Assistance – The Council urges Congress to continue its financial support of the Women’s Business Center program.
Fact-Based Policy-Making – The Council believes that agencies such as the Federal Reserve Board and Census Bureau should be required to continue compiling and publishing research on the overall business environment, availability of capital, and policies affecting women-owned businesses.