The face of entrepreneurship is changing in America. Women-owned small businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of our economy and are helping us recover from the Great Recession. Still, there are still profound challenges women small business owners face— a lack of access to capital and resources, a lack of knowledge about business basics, and a lack of financial education. Women entrepreneurs should not be discouraged or deterred for these reasons. The U.S. Small Business Administration mid-Atlantic Region stands alongside entrepreneurs, including women, to knock down these obstacles.
In the SBA’s mid-Atlantic Region, we know business success can be achieved with the right tools. We have a reason to celebrate Women’s Small Business Month with our success stories. For example, Kim Scott, President of The Great Gourmet in Federalsburg, Maryland. She contacted the Baltimore District Office and used the services of the Maryland Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network. Kim worked closely with a SBDC counselor to ultimately obtain two SBA loans to expand her business from a one-person operation to now employing over 25. Her counselor also
encouraged her to become certified through the SBA for government contracting as a means of growing her business. With SBA financing and SBDC counseling she empowered her entrepreneurial spirit and secured her small business success.
As an advocate and champion for small businesses across the nation, we at SBA recognize women are under-represented in the federal contracting marketplace despite being essential job creators in communities across the country. We all know federal contracts provide critical opportunities for owners of small firms to boost their small businesses to the next level and create good-paying jobs. That’s why we rolled out the SBA Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program (WOSBs) in 2011. This program authorizes contracting officers to set aside federal contracts for eligible women-owned small businesses or economically disadvantaged small businesses to ensure women earn a fair share of the federal marketplace. Continued support for women is essential as women-owned small businesses have grown by 20 percent in five years and a quarter of small businesses are now owned or led by women.
The SBA offers additional resources such as local Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) and SBA Lending Programs. WBCs are an effective resource that encourage and help women small business owners navigate to success through mentorship and training. Additionally, there are various SBA loan programs that can cater to your small business needs.
Overall, your gender, your race, your age, or your neighborhood should never impact you as a potential small business owner. Only your creditworthiness should. Look to the SBA as your small business resource and partner. For more information, visit: http://www.sba.gov/content/women-owned-businesses to jumpstart your potential woman-owned small business.
Natalia Olson-Urtecho is the Mid-Atlantic regional administrator for the US Small Business Administration