Small Business Bill Aims to Boost Women Entrepreneurship


With the introduction of the Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014 by U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), joined by Senators Ben Cardin (D-MD), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), and John Walsh (D-MT), Katie Vlietstra, vice president for government relations and public affairs of the National Association for the Self-Employed (NASE), an advocate and resource for self-employed and micro-businesses, offered the following comments applauding the measure.

“On behalf of America’s small business community and our members, we applaud Senator Cantwell and her colleagues for their dedication and attention to addressing a growing issue within our industry. Women are a sizable and leading group in not only the American workforce, but also a powerful demographic among small business owners.

“It is unfortunate that women face multiple roadblocks when it comes to succeeding in the small business community. From access to capital to securing contracts to simply getting business advice, women continue to encounter too many obstacles at every turn. This bill is a good first step forward in tearing down these barriers. We look forward to working the Senators to ensure women have the resources and tools necessary to start, grow and save for their businesses.”

The momentum for women’s entrepreneurship continues to grow. The bill addresses three areas where women entrepreneurs continue to face barriers: access to training and counseling, access to capital and access to the federal market.

• A re-authorization of the Women’s Business Center (WBC) program through fiscal year 2019
• Funding of WBCs increased from $14.5 million a year to $26.75 million a year
• Increased federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses,
• More flexibility for the SBA Microloan program that will increase access to capital for women.

The report, 21st Century Barriers to Women’s Entrepreneurship, finds that women entrepreneurs still face challenges getting fair access to capital, getting equal access to federal contracts and getting relevant business training and counseling.

Although women-owned companies make up about 30 percent of all U.S. businesses, the bill said these ventures only employ 6 percent of the American workforce and receive 4 percent of federal contact funding.

The Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014 would nearly double funding for Women’s Business Centers from $14.5 million annually to $26.75 million. It would also increase microlending capacity from $5 to $7 million and jumpstart the number of federal contract opportunities for women-owned businesses.

Women’s Small Business Counseling: Currently, there are 107 local non-profit organizations that host the Women’s Business Centers located throughout most of the U.S., which help more than 150,000 clients annually and is overseen by the SBA Office of Women Ownership. This legislation would reauthorize the Women’s Business Center program through fiscal year 2019 and nearly doubles funding authorization from $14.5 million a year to $26.75 million a year, while establishing clear rules and metrics to evaluate the success of each center.

Women’s Small Business Contracting: This legislation would authorize sole source awards to women-owned small businesses, creating parity for the Women-Owned Small Business program in terms of federal contracting opportunities. Under current law, women-owned small businesses are not eligible for sole-source contracts from the federal government. The federal government has a goal of awarding 5 percent of federal contracts to women-owned small businesses. This goal has never been reached and this bill will help the federal government meet that target. Had the goal been achieved, is it estimated women-owned companies would receive another $4 billion in federal contracts each year.

Access to Capital: The legislation would allow lenders in the SBA Microloan to increase overall lending capacity from $5 million to $7 million and improve the program to better meet the needs of borrowers through offering more flexible loan terms, improved technical assistance, and reallocation of resources to high performing lenders. The SBA Microloan program allows intermediaries to issue loans up to $50,000. Current law limits micro lenders from spending more than 25% of the technical assistance on a potential borrower. This provision was originally included in the pilot program legislation to make sure intermediaries did not use all of their technical assistance funds to assist businesses that did not have the potential to become borrowers. Your legislation eliminates this requirement to better assist prospective borrowers and provides lenders with more flexibility.



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Founded in 1994 by the late Pamela Hulse Andrews, Cascade Business News (CBN) became Central Oregon’s premier business publication. •

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