The members of the National Women’s Business Council worked together throughout Fiscal Year 2007 to promote policies and programs designed to support women’s entrepreneurship. Over the past year, the Council’s activities focused primarily on the following areas: communications and outreach, research, and policy engagement.
In reaching out to the women’s business community, policymakers and other target audiences, the Council held two town hall meetings, produced written and electronic communications, and participated in national and international events promoting women’s business ownership. In addition, the Council produced research reports and fact sheets, partnered in research events with other organizations and began an audit of available research in the field. Members of the Council spoke on behalf of the Council and Council staff participated in hundreds of intergovernmental and organizational meetings. For the fourth 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, meetings and roundtables, and comment letters filed regarding research and procurement, 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 Procurement Markets
As advocates for women business owners, the National Women’s Business Council believes that women-owned businesses must have the opportunity to compete for their fair share of federal contracts. Therefore, the Council encourages the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) to move swiftly in implementing a program to reach the government-wide five percent goal for women-owned small businesses. The Council suggests making procurement officers accountable for reaching the goal reflected in their annual performance evaluations and focusing additional efforts on ensuring prime contractor compliance with subcontracting plans and goals for women-owned and all small businesses.
Policymakers and government leaders cannot responsibly react to, manage, and make policy recommendations based on data which is not measured. Therefore, the Council urges continued and adequate funding for data collection and research conducted by federal agencies such as the Census Bureau, the Federal Reserve, and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Recommendations from Town Hall Meeting Participants
During the Council’s Town Hall Meetings in March and June 2007, participant discussions resulted in several policy recommendations, including increased funding of Women’s Business Centers and Small Business Development Centers, an evaluation of whether SBA-backed lending programs are meeting the needs of small and women-owned businesses, adoption of an Association Health Plan system, establishment of a clearinghouse of government contracting and subcontracting opportunities set-aside for women-owned businesses, and tax incentives to help small business owners offer health insurance or educational opportunities for their workers.
This Annual Report summarizes these many activities, offers policy recommendations, and previews Council initiatives for the coming year. We invite public comment on our Annual Report, and on the research and other programmatic activities of the Council.