January 15, 2021

SBA Launches Its 'Ascent for Women' Online Platform Geared to Help Women Entrepreneurs Grow and Expand Their Businesses

"Women entrepreneurs start and own nearly half of all businesses in the United States, employ 9.4 million workers, generate $1.9 trillion in revenue and represent all industries," the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) said in a press release announcing the launch of its new initiative for women interested in starting or growing their small businesses. According to the Jan. 11th, 2021 announcement, Ascent for Women is "a first-of-its-kind, free digital e-learning platform geared to help women entrepreneurs grow and expand their businesses. Ascent has valuable content such as tips on preparing and recovering from disasters, strategic marketing and business financial strategy development."

A joint initiative between the White House, the SBA, the U.S. Department of Labor's Women's Bureau and the U.S. Department of the Treasury, Ascent is "designed to support women entrepreneurs looking to remain resilient in their operations" and the platform "is packed with content and resources from each agency and backed by academic research," the press statement explained.

Developed by experts in women's entrepreneurship, the platform is divided into major topics called Journeys. Within each Journey, users will find Excursions with the tools they need to master a topic. Each excursion includes a time estimate for completion. Below is a list of items users can explore within Excursions:
  • Exercises & Tools: Learn and apply growth practices to your business;
  • Fireside Chats: Learn from experts about how women grow their businesses;
  • Infographics: Gain a snapshot view of growth concepts;
  • Success Stories: Be inspired by stories from real-world entrepreneurs;
  • Discussion Guides: Use questions to stimulate thinking for you, your advisors or team;
  • Videos: Grasp key concepts in just minutes;
  • Key Insights: Understand key topics to support your business growth; and
  • Self-Assessments: Benchmark your current practices through self-focused inventories.

The aforementioned press release noted that "Ascent offers several key journeys to assist women business owners with strategies towards growth and success, including Disaster & Economic Recovery, Strategic Marketing, Your People, Your Business Financial Strategy and Access to Capital. Each journey contains content and tools needed to grow your business. Additional topics will be added over time."

This initiative is one of two learning platforms created by the SBA designed to empower and educate small business owners, The previous post on this blog focuses on the SBA's Learning Center, which is aimed to help small business owners start, pivot, or grow their business.

SBA Launches Largest Expansion of Women's Business Centers in 30 Years

Prior to announcing the launch of the Ascent for Women platform, the SBA issued a press release on Jan. 4th, 2021 saying "grant funding and the historic launch of 20 new Women’s Business Centers (WBC) across America to serve rural, urban and underserved communities alike. The opening of the 20 new WBCs is the largest single expansion of WBCs across America in its 30-year tenure, and these centers will be pivotal to the success of women-owned businesses as they continue to recover during this time. The WBCs will be hosted in rural and underserved markets and widen the footprint and partnership with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)."

The press statement added that "SBA's WBCs are a national network of 136 centers that offer one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance, and mentoring to women entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics, including business startup, financial management, marketing, and procurement."

What are your thoughts about the SBA's initiatives to help women entrepreneurs? Are there additional resources you recommend?

Aaron Rose is a board member, corporate advisor, and co-founder of great companies. He also serves as the editor of GT Perspectives, an online forum focused on turning perspective into opportunity.

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