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Federal and Community Entrepreneurial Resources for Women-Owned Small Businesses

NWBC remains dedicated to connecting the voice of U.S. women entrepreneurs and small business owners—including those severely impacted by COVID-19, global supply chain issues, or recent natural disasters—to our nation’s policymakers, federal government officials, and women’s business enterprise-focused champions in the nonprofit sector. While the list below is not exhaustive, it may help serve as a quick reference for founders interested to learn more about entrepreneurial resources and funding opportunities at every stage of the business cycle.

SBA Resources
  • Community Navigator Program |An American Rescue Plan initiative designed to reduce barriers that all small businesses, including those owned by disadvantaged groups such as veterans, women, rural communities, and communities of color, often face in accessing critical support.
  • Disaster Assistance | The SBA provides low-interest disaster loans to help businesses and homeowners recover from declared disasters.
  • Entrepreneurial Workshops and Technical Assistance for Native American Business Owners | The federal government provides opportunities in contracting, business development, and other programs for Native American small business owners. Also, the SBA has gathered information from different entities that provide technical assistance to Native American Owned Businesses.
  • Learning Center | This webpage provides a variety of online courses to help entrepreneurs start and run a business. SBA’s online learning programs are designed to empower and educate small business owners every step of the way.
    • ASCENT | SBA’s ASCENT platform is a free digital e-learning platform developed to assist women entrepreneurs ready to grow and expand their businesses. Ascent features several key educational journeys including the following: Disaster & Economic Recovery, Strategic Marketing, Your People, Your Business Financial Strategy and Access to Capital.
  • Local Assistance | Find local partners that counsel, mentor, and train small business entrepreneurs, by zip code.
  • National Resource Guide | A national edition of the resource guide for small business. It presents information on program contracting, counseling, credit/capital, SBA operations. The guide is offered in both English and Spanish.
  • SBA’s Business Guide | See this guide to start your business in 10 steps.
  • SCORE | SCORE is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and a resource partner of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). SCORE has the largest network of free volunteer small business mentors in the nation. SCORE provides a dedicated page and tailored webinars for women small business owners.
  • Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs) | The Small Business Development Center Program offers one-stop assistance to individuals and small businesses by providing a variety of information and guidance in central and easily accessible branch locations. The program is a cooperative effort of the private sector, the educational community as well as federal, state, and local governments. It enhances economic development by providing small businesses with management and technical assistance.
  • The Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) | OWBO assists women entrepreneurs through programs coordinated by SBA district offices. Programs include business training, counseling, federal contracts, and access to credit and capital. OWBO, together with NWBC, was officially established with the passage of HR 5050, the Women’s Business Ownership Act.
  • Veterans Business Outreach Center (VBOC) | The VBOC program is designed to provide entrepreneurial development services such as business training, counseling, and resource partner referrals to transitioning service members, veterans, National Guard & Reserve members, and military spouses interested in starting or growing a small business.
  • Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) | WBCs provide free, to low-cost counseling and training and focus on women who want to start, grow, and expand their small business. These centers seek to level the playing field for all women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world. WBCs serve a wide diversity of geographic areas, demographic populations, and economic environments. Many centers offer training and counseling in various languages and dialects, helping reach underserved markets with unique and innovative programs. Businesses receiving assistance from WBCs see a significantly better success rate than those without similar support.
  • Federal Contracting Assistance | SBA provides small businesses with the guidance and resources needed to pursue government contracts. It includes:
    • Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTACs) provide technical assistance to businesses interested in selling products or services to federal, state, and local governments. Additionally, PTACs can help your small business:
      • Determine if you’re ready for federal contracting.
      • Help you register in the proper places.
      • See if you’re eligible for small business certifications.
      • Assist you in researching past contract opportunities.
    • Procurement Center Representatives (PCRs) assist small businesses win federal contracts. PCRs view many federal acquisition and procurement strategies before they’re announced, which enables them to influence opportunities that should be set aside for small businesses. PCRs also:
      • Help carry out SBA policies and programs.
      • Conduct market research.
      • Assist small businesses with payment issues.
      • Provide counseling on the contracting process.
    • Commercial Market Representatives (CMRs) work to ensure that small businesses are receiving maximum practicable opportunity to participate as Federal subcontractors. CMRs perform reviews of “other than small” Federal contractors to ensure their compliance with the goals and objectives in their small business subcontracting plans. They provide training to Federal agencies and “other than small” contractors on subcontracting plans and their reporting requirements.
  • Office of Government Contracting & Business Development Resources | SBA offers guidance and resources that can help you win government contracts and throughout the contract’s lifecycle. Determine whether your business qualifies as small by using the SBA Size Standards Tool.
  • SBA Contracting Guide |The U.S. government is the largest customer in the world. The SBA works with federal agencies to award 23 percent of prime government contract dollars to eligible small businesses and offers counseling and help to small business contractors. This guide includes how to assess your business and how to win contracts.
  • The 8(a) Business Development program | The 8(a) program helps small, disadvantaged businesses compete in the marketplace. Check with WBCs and local assistance resources for guidance.
  • Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program | This program helps women-owned small businesses compete for federal contracts. It is important you understand the eligibility requirements before applying.
    • Quick Summary of WOSB Eligibility Requirements:
      • To be eligible for the WOSB Federal Contracting program, a business must:
        • Be a small business according to SBA size standards
        • Be at least 51% owned and controlled by women who are U.S. citizens
        • Have women manage day-to-day operations who also make long-term decisions
      • To qualify as an EDWOSB within the program, a business must:
        • Meet all the requirements of the WOSB Federal Contracting program
        • Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with a personal net worth less than $750,000
        • Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each with $350,000 or less in adjusted gross income averaged over the previous three years
        • Be owned and controlled by one or more women, each $6 million or less in personal assets
  • WOSB/EDWOSB Certification | As of October 15, 2020, the previous self-certification option on the old platform is no longer available. Firms must complete the updated certification process on to compete for WOSB Federal Contracting program set-aside contracts.
  • Quick Link to All SBA Funding Programs | Visit this quick link with comprehensive information to learn about all loans, investment capital, disaster assistance, surety bonds, and grants.
  • SBA Loan Programs | Women-owned small businesses can also take advantage of SBA loan programs. SBA works with lenders to provide loans to small businesses. The agency does not lend money directly to small business owners. Instead, it sets guidelines for loans made by its partnering lenders, community development organizations, and micro-lending institutions. SBA reduces risk for lenders and makes it easier for them to access capital. That makes it easier for small businesses to get loans.
    • 7(a) Loans | The 7(a) Loan Program includes financial help for small businesses with special requirements. This is the best option when real estate is part of a business purchase, or it can be used for short- and long-term working capital, to refinance current business debt, or purchase furniture, fixtures, and supplies. The maximum loan amount for a 7(a) loan is $5 million.
    • The Certified Development Companies (CDCs)/504 Loan Program | The 504 Loan program provides long-term, fixed rate financing of up to $5 million for major fixed assets that promote business growth and job creation. (CDCs are certified and regulated by SBA.) This type of loan can be used for a range of assets that promote business growth and job creation. These include the purchase or construction of existing buildings or land, new facilities, long-term machinery, and equipment. Also eligible is the improvement or modernization of land, streets, utilities, parking lots and landscaping, or existing facilities.
    • Microloans | The microloan program provides loans up to $50,000 to help small businesses and certain not-for-profit childcare centers start up and expand. The average microloan is about $13,000.
      • SBA’s Lender Match Tool | Get matched to potential lenders offering SBA-backed funding.
  • Grants for Community Organizations | Learn about SBA grants for community organizations and cooperative agreements that support small business growth and development.
  • SBA Grants | SBA provides limited small business grants and grants to states and eligible community organizations to promote entrepreneurship.
    • Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Programs | The SBIR/STTR programs are highly competitive awards-based programs that encourage domestic small businesses to engage in Federal Research/Research and Development (R/R&D) with the potential for commercialization. These programs enable small businesses to explore their technological potential and provide the incentive to profit from its commercialization.
    • SBA’s State Trade Expansion Program (STEP) | Through awards to U.S. states and territories, STEP helps small businesses overcome obstacles to exporting by providing grants to cover costs associated with entering and expanding into international markets.  STEP financial support helps U.S. small businesses:
      • Learn to export
      • Participate in foreign trade missions
      • Design international marketing products and campaigns
      • Support website globalization and e-commerce capabilities
      • Pay for subscriptions to services provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce and other federal agencies
      • Participate in export trade show exhibits and training workshops
  • SBA Coronavirus Relief Options | The SBA does not accept new applications for COVID-19 relief and restaurant revitalization funds. However, it continues to offer PPP loan forgiveness, SBA debt relief, and offers guidance to businesses to prevent and report theft and fraud.
Other Key Federal Resources
  • Department of Labor (DOL), WANTO Grants | The Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) grant helps to expand pathways for women to enter and lead in all industries. In 2019, the WANTO grant program awarded $1,492,515 to three community-based organizations to increase women’s employment in apprenticeship programs and nontraditional occupations.
    • Organizations receiving funds are to provide one or more of the following types of technical assistance:
      • Developing pre-apprenticeship or nontraditional skills training programs to prepare women for those careers;
      • Providing ongoing orientations for employers, unions, and workers on creating a successful environment for women to succeed in those careers; and
      • Setting up support groups, facilitating networks, and/or providing support services for women to improve their retention.
  • | This is the federal government’s one-stop shop to search for government grant opportunities.
  • Minority Business Development Agency at the U.S. Department of Commerce (MBDA) | MBDA is a federal agency dedicated to “the growth and global competitiveness of minority business enterprises.”
    • Job Quality Toolkit | An actionable tool that organizations can use to improve the quality of the jobs they offer. Identifying and improving the drivers most valued by workers can significantly increase their satisfaction and engagement and, in turn, benefit the organization’s ability to compete for talent and achieve success in the marketplace.
  • Offices of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) | The USDA provides a useful list of links to federal OSDBU offices.
  • System for Award Management ( | has merged with All content from both sites is now available at This is an official website of the U.S. Government for registering to do business with the federal government. Registration on this site is free.
  • USDA Minority Women Farmers and Ranchers | USDA’s Farm Service Agency targets a portion of all Guaranteed loan funds, Direct Operating and Direct Farm Ownership loan funds, Microloan funding, and Youth loans, to historically underserved farmers and ranchers.
    • USDA provides contact information for the agency’s Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization’s (OSDBU) Women’s Business Advocate and a full page of links and resources for women business owners.
  • Women’s Global Trade Empowerment | The Women’s Global Trade Empowerment program is the International Trade Administration’s (ITA) premiere resource for women entrepreneurs who wish to grow their business into new markets. This platform facilitates the skills to build and export strategy and develop valuable business connections.
  • Women’s Services, US Department of Transportation | The Women Procurement Assistance Committee (WPAC) at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) established WPAC through the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) to promote, coordinate and monitor DOT procurement plans and programs. The Committee provides forums, workshops, and best practices to contribute to the growth and economic development of women.
Women’s Business Organizations & Small Enterprise Supports

Below is a list of national women’s business organizations as well as other important nonprofit resources championing equity and supporting minority- and women-owned small businesses. This is not an exhaustive list:

  • Association for Enterprise Opportunity (AEO) | “Since 1991, AEO and its member and partner organizations have helped millions of entrepreneurs contribute to economic growth while supporting themselves, their families, and their communities. AEO’s more than 1,700 members and partners include a broad range of organizations that provide capital and services to assist underserved entrepreneurs in starting, stabilizing, and expanding their businesses.”
  • Association for Women in Science (AWIS) | “For individuals seeking equity for women in science, engineering, technology, and math, AWIS provides career development, networking, mentorship, and leadership opportunities. In addition … thought leadership, research, and advocacy benefit all women in science.”
  • Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC) | “The AWBC works to secure economic justice and entrepreneurial opportunities for women by supporting and sustaining a national network of more than 100 Women’s Business Centers (WBC). WBCs help women succeed in business by providing training, mentoring, business development, and financing opportunities to over 150,000 women entrepreneurs each year.”
  • Babson College Center for Women’s Entrepreneurial Leadership (CWEL) | CWEL educates and empowers “women to create social and economic impact through industry and innovation as we research and enlighten the global community about the importance of female leadership for prosperity and human progress … CWEL’s award-winning programs, exclusive events, access to cutting-edge experts, and hands-on coaching impact a diverse set of stakeholders from around the world.”
  • Gender Equality in Tech (GET) Cities | GET Cities “is an initiative designed to accelerate the representation and leadership of women in tech through the development of inclusive tech hubs across the United States.”
  • Hello Alice | A free online platform helping businesses launch and grow. It guides owners through every step of their entrepreneurial journey through knowledge, funding, networks, and peer-to-peer connections with more than 1,000,000 small business owners.
  • How Women Lead | A National organization of top executive women focused on investment and philanthropy to empower women. Their How Women Give program is a platform that provides grants, visibility, and volunteer support to organizations solving critical community problems impacting women and girls in marginalized communities.
  • National Association of Women in Construction (NAWIC) | Founded in 1953, “NAWIC is … based in Fort Worth, [Texas] and has over 115 chapters throughout the United States that provide its members with opportunities for professional development, education, networking, leadership training, public service and more. NAWIC continues … [to advocate] for the value and impact of women builders, professionals, and tradeswomen in all aspects of the construction industry.”
  • National Association of Women’s Business Owners (NAWBO) | “Founded in 1975, the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) is the unified voice of over 11.6 million women-owned businesses in the United States representing the fastest growing segment of the economy.”
  • National Association of Women in Real Estate Businesses (NAWRB) | “NAWRB is a leading voice for women in the housing ecosystem … advocating for women’s gender equality, raising the utilization of women-owned businesses and providing women the tools and opportunities for economic expansion and growth.
  • Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center | A nonprofit with its mission to improve inclusion, access, and knowledge in entrepreneurship. It provides global exchange of knowledge and experience, free classes, and events every week at their center, and networking.
  • Native Women Lead | “Native Women Lead revolutionizes systems and inspires innovation by investing in Native Women in business … by co-creating with and convening [the] community to build coalitions while honoring … culture, creativity, and connections.”
  • Startup Champions Network | Startup Champions Network is a professional association of entrepreneurial ecosystem builders. Members are individual system weavers who are committed to entrepreneurship as a tool to make communities better. “Entrepreneurial ecosystem builders come from a variety of backgrounds and expertise, including entrepreneurs, government officials, economic developers, grassroots community leaders, university leaders, academics, philanthropists, corporate leaders, and media.”
  • The BOW Collective | Business Philanthropists that work together to bring awareness, business opportunities, and capital resources to black women enterprises.
  • The Tory Burch Foundation | A Foundation that empowers women and women entrepreneurs by providing access to capital, education, and digital resources.
  • U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce (USWCC) | USWCC is focused on helping “women start and build successful businesses and careers, gain access to government contracts, grow as leaders and prepare for a secure retirement.”
  • Walker’s Legacy | Focused on “cultivating the whole woman,” Walker’s Legacy “is a global platform for professional and entrepreneurial multicultural women.” The organization notes it exists “to inspire, equip, and engage through thought-provoking content, educational programming, and a global community.”
  • Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) | “WBENC was founded in 1997 to develop a nationwide standard for women-owned business certification. Since then, the organization has grown to become the largest third-party certifier of businesses owned, controlled, and operated by women in the United States and a leading advocate for women-owned businesses in corporate and government supply chains … [As a] 501(c)(3) non-profit, WBENC partners with 14 Regional Partner Organizations.
  • Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) | WIPP is a national nonpartisan organization advocating on behalf of women entrepreneurs—strengthening their impact on our nation’s public policy, creating economic opportunities, and forging alliances with other business organizations … Since its inception in June of 2001, WIPP has reviewed, provided input, and taken specific positions on many economic issues and policies which affect [women-owned businesses].”
  • Women’s Presidents’ Organization (WPO) | WPO “is a nonprofit membership organization for women presidents of multimillion-dollar companies. The members of the WPO take part in professionally facilitated peer advisory groups in order to… accelerate the growth of their businesses… The organization was formed to improve business conditions for women entrepreneurs, and to promote the acceptance and advancement of women entrepreneurs in all industries.”
Foundations and Private Sector WBE Programs
  • Bank of America Center for Women Entrepreneurs | The Center for Women Entrepreneurs provides an Access to Capital Directory for Women Entrepreneurs and invests in partnerships that advance the interests of women business owners that offer training, mentoring, and capital.
  • Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women | An Initiative to Provide Business & Management Education to Female Entrepreneurs in Emerging Markets.
  • Wells Fargo, Women Owned Businesses | Wells Fargo offers networking, coaching, a library of resources, among other programs to support women-owned small businesses.
  • Women on The Move | A global initiative to support women-run businesses, provide tools and education to help women increase their financial health and independence, and offer resources that empower women to excel in their careers.
    • Chase for Business Curating Coaching for Entrepreneurs | A program that offers interactions with expert entrepreneurial consultants for free, along with educational resources. Their goal is to help businesses build actionable insights, a personalized game plan, and the strategic tools for business growth.
  • WBENC LIFT Financial Center of Excellence | An integrated education and funding program for women entrepreneurs to provide comprehensive financial support and resources, including education, coaching, networking, and funding opportunities.