By Kathy McShane
Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women’s Business Ownership
U.S. Small Business Administration
Now more than ever, women entrepreneurs are making their mark. The growing prevalence of women entrepreneurs hasn’t happened by accident. A big part of the growth of women-owned small businesses is legislation that targeted the creation of resources and networks for women. This year, we celebrate a milestone of 30 years since its passage.
The Women’s Business Ownership Act (H.R. 5050) was created to address the needs of women entrepreneurs by giving them greater recognition and additional resources. This was one of the first things that empowered women to be entrepreneurs on their own terms. It established the SBA’s Women’s Business Center (WBC) program.
They were the first SBA program to focus on women, and our centers continue to be an important resource partner. The mission of the WBC program is to act as the catalyst for providing in-depth, substantive, outcome-oriented business services to women entrepreneurs. These include both budding and established businesses, many of which are socially and economically disadvantaged.
Today, there are over 100 WBCs all over the country – including nine new centers that opened this year. These centers provide an incredible service for women entrepreneurs that helps them to launch and grow businesses and create jobs. In 2017, the WBCs supported more than 150,000 women, resulting in tremendous revenue and job growth for the businesses they served — $1.7 billion in revenue and 17,000 new job creations. Research shows that women who get counseling and mentoring early in the development of their businesses are more successful than those who don’t.
In addition, we recognize National Women’s Small Business Month and the millions of women entrepreneurs who day after day pursue their passion of entrepreneurship and financial independence. We want women entrepreneurs to feel confident taking a risk on starting or expanding their small businesses. Whether they are writing a business plan, connecting with a business mentor, or receiving a loan to start or expand their businesses, each woman can access SBA resources.
As a former business owner, I know first-hand the resources, support, and access to networks and financing that women need. I applaud those who have worked hard to overcome the barriers to business ownership and I encourage those who have yet to fulfill their dreams of entrepreneurship.
For the next generation of women entrepreneurs, it will be equally critical for them to have the needed resources to start and grow their businesses, just as women did 30 years ago. As the nation’s go-to resource for women entrepreneurs, the SBA will be here to help them. Access to capital, mentors and networking are some of the things women entrepreneurs need the most, and these continue to be the main barriers.
Through our 68 district offices and network of resource partners, we have the proven tools needed to help bridge the gap for women entrepreneurs as they grow their businesses, reach new markets and realize their full potential. We strive to reach as many entrepreneurs as we can through the Women’s Business Centers, the Small Business Development Centers, SCORE and the Veterans Business Outreach Centers.
We’re excited about the achievements made and don’t plan to stop now. There is more to be done to build on the foundation that was laid 30 years ago. We will continue to serve women who are starting and growing their own businesses. And they won’t have to do it alone – the WBCs and the SBA are on their side!