February 4, 2022

Report Presents Policy Recommendations to Better Support Women-Owned Businesses in the US

"As of 2017, there are 11,684,549 women-owned businesses in the United States accounting for 37.6% of all businesses," according to a report published by the National Women's Business Council (NWBC). "Revenue for all women-owned businesses in 2017 was $1,776.4 billion. The U.S. Census Bureau (Census Bureau) defines majority women-owned businesses as having more than 50% of the stock or equity in the business."

The NWBC, a non-partisan federal advisory committee created to serve as an independent source of advice and policy recommendations to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) on economic issues of importance to women business owners, says approximately 38% of all businesses in the U.S. are women-owned and 80% of women business owners are over the age of 35. While there are over nine million women-owned businesses in urban areas accounting for 77% of all women-owned businesses and 38% of all urban businesses, there are 1.6 million women-owned businesses in rural areas accounting for 13% of all businesses and 35% of all rural businesses.

The report also presents policy recommendations on a different segments starting with improving access to capital and opportunity such as spotlighting successful venture funds investing in diverse women-founded enterprises, building back a better pipeline of women entrepreneurs, reassessing and strengthening SBA’s microloan program to better serve women entrepreneurs in emerging markets, and narrowing the wealth gap for women entrepreneurs by ensuring parity for the SBA’s women-owned small business (WOSB) and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses (EDWOSB) federal contracting programs.

With respect to rural women's entrepreneurship, the NWBC provides policy recommendations to improve promoting succession planning among rural women entrepreneurs, providing relief for women inheriting rural family businesses and farms, evaluating gaps in data for rural women business owners and farm operators, addressing family and child care concerns as barriers to women entrepreneurship, and advancing diversity, equity and inclusion to support rural minority women business owners.

On the topic of women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), the report outlines policy recommendations for advancing gender equity in STEM business and innovation and promoting commercialization of new technologies, increasing STEM business mentorship and education opportunities, supporting STEM accelerator programs partnering with minority serving institutions (MSIs) and historically black colleges or universities (HBCUs), and improving demographic data collection on minority women inventor patentees.

Having served as an advisor to women-owned enterprises, I have witnessed the exorbitant long time it takes for the SBA to review applications to receive a WOSB/EDWOSB certification. Therefore, I support the recommendation that the "SBA should improve the turnaround time for obtaining a WOSB/EDWOSB certification, and both Congress and SBA should work to ensure parity of the program by leveraging the same or greater contracting expectations, authority and penalties as other certification and contracting programs."

Moreover, the NWBC recommends that SBA's Ascent platform highlight and include relevant, existing federal resources uniquely tailored for women STEM entrepreneurs including links to existing Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) program online tutorials, U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) video trainings, and other relevant federal resources customized for women innovators. (More information about SBA's Ascent program may be found in a post entitled "SBA Launches Its 'Ascent for Women' Online Platform Geared to Help Women Entrepreneurs Grow and Expand Their Businesses.")

Do you agree with NWBC's policy recommendations to better support women-owned businesses in the United States?

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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