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Published on March 17th, 2016 | by Millennium Magazine Staff


How Women are Making History: SBA Lauds Record Achievement in Women’s Small Business Contracting

By Erin Andrew, SBA Official

Women in business today have made incredible strides during the last half century. From the Equal Pay Act to the Women’s Business Ownership Act; and from the Executive Order that added women to the non-discrimination standards for federal contracting to the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act lowering procurement barriers and establishing the 5 percent goals for women’s contracting, the path of women’s entrepreneurship has been paved by great progress.

As National Women’s History Month begins, history has been made in the realm of women’s contracting. For the first time, the federal government has reached the 5 percent women’s small business contracting goal.

Why is this historic?

The SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program was created so that women-owned small businesses (WOSBs), could tap into the nearly $90.7 billion in contracts that go to small firms each year. Federal contracts going to WOSBs accounted for 5.05 percent or $17.8 billion of all small business- eligible contracting dollars, for the first time during fiscal year 2015. These small business contract dollars represent an incredible impact on the American economy that supports job creation, innovation, and growth. Last year, the federal government awarded an all-time high of 25.75 percent of government contracts to all small businesses, supporting 537,000 American jobs.

When we look at women entrepreneurs today, there are more than 9.8 million women-owned businesses in the United States. That’s an increase of over two million businesses, or 26.8 percent, from 2007, according to dataDownload Adobe Reader to read this link content from the U.S. Census Bureau. Of non-farm and privately-held businesses, 36.3 percent are women-owned, up from 28.8 percent in 2007. It is clear that women’s entrepreneurship is on the rise, further evidenced by the fact that women-owned businesses generate $1.4 trillion in receipts.

Meeting the women’s contracting goal for the first time is a direct result of continuous government-wide leadership. Since taking office in 2009, President Obama directed his administration to focus on increasing small business contracting opportunities across the federal government with agencies that serve the needs of small businesses. Under the Obama administration, the SBA took on a number of efforts that contributed to meeting the 5 percent goal, including:

Expanding our lending, making nearly $16.4 billion available through more than 45,900 SBA loans to women-owned businesses.

Implementing the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program in 2011.

Implementing provisions of The National Defense Authorization Act of FY2013 which removed the dollar caps on set-aside contracts under the WOSB program

Implementing provisions of The National Defense Authorization Act of FY 2015 which provided for sole-source authority under the WOSB program.

Collaborating with the White House and senior officials at each federal agency to ensure agencies are held accountable for the government-wide small business contracting goal.

Launching SBA’s Government Contracting Classroom which provides small businesses with training tools, including a series of online contracting courses to help prospective and existing small businesses understand the basics of contracting with federal agencies.

Increasing outreach efforts to ensure that small businesses are aware of the WOSB program and educating small businesses on the nuances of federal contracting by partnering with WIPP and American Express OPEN on initiatives like ChallengeHER, a national initiative to help boost government contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses.

Additionally, SBA Administrator Contreras-Sweet commissioned a report to analyze industries where women-owned small businesses are underrepresented. Based on the findings, the WOSB set-aside program has been amended to increase the number of industries where contracts can be set-aside from 83 to 113.

What is the impact?

Although the Census Bureau has reported that women’s business ownership rates are up nearly 27 percent, when it comes to receiving contracts and capital, women are under-represented. Women are over half of the population but receive only four percent of venture capital. To keep America strong, we must keep our local economies strong. Small businesses create nearly two out of three net, new jobs in our economy. More than half of Americans are employed by a small business. When these federal dollars churn in local communities, they create a multiplier effect that strengthens the local tax base, which leads to better government services and better schools. We know that when a small business secures a federal contract, their odds of success are enhanced dramatically.

One example of our nation’s champion women-owned small businesses is Necole Parker. As CEO and founder of The ELOCEN Group, LLC, started in 2007, she leads the full-service program and project management firm that focuses on delivering innovative client solutions as it relates to new construction, renovations, and information technology integration. Before becoming certified by the SBA’s 8(a) Business Development Program, Ms. Parker sought SCORE counseling on government contracting, SBA rules and regulations, and how to successfully connect with federal agency small business offices. The SBA’s 8(a) program has been very instrumental in the growth of her company. Ms. Parker has said she appreciates the programs and services the SBA offers to help small businesses like hers. She has stated, “Successfully growing The ELOCEN Group in scale, capacity, and competitiveness are the results of our company’s direct participation in the SBA 8(a) program. We’ve been able to regularly exceed targeted goals, consistently increase staffing year-over-year, and leverage relationships established throughout our engagement with SBA.”

Small businesses provide corporations and the government with agility, creativity, innovation and flexibility. Small businesses also help create a distinct feel in our communities that only they can provide. We want to see more outcomes like Elocen. It is vital that we not only recognize the contributions of women-owned businesses, but that we positon more women to start small businesses. The SBA remains committed to making sure that women-owned businesses and all small businesses continue to flourish and gain access to their fair share of federal contract dollars. While women still face many challenges when it comes to business ownership, the SBA has the resources to help women knock down the hurdles to success.


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