SBA Can Help Level-Up Your Business this Women’s History Month
by Bernard J. Paprocki
Acting Regional Administrator for the Atlantic Region, overseeing agency operations in New York & New Jersey, Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands.
The past year has been especially challenging for America’s small businesses; that’s especially true for women-owned businesses facing unique challenges even in the best of times. The COVID-19 pandemic and the corresponding economic crisis have been devastating to Women-owned businesses and the communities they operate in.
While 21% of employer small businesses and 41% of non-employer businesses in the US are women-owned, they have been hit disproportionately hard throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Women-owned businesses are 1.7 times more likely to close than male counterparts. This is why the Biden-Harris Administration is committed to delivering equitable relief to hard-hit small businesses – so they can rehire and retain workers, safely reopen, and deliver the essential goods and services our communities depend on.
The Administration recently enacted five Paycheck Protection Program reforms that promote equitable access for small business relief while eliminating barriers that disproportionately harm women-owned and minority-owned Main Street small businesses, among other underserved populations.
The SBA is also lifting up women-owned small businesses in other ways too. One of the ways we do this is through our network of Women’s Business Centers (WBC). These centers seek to level the playing field for all women entrepreneurs, who still face unique obstacles in the business world.
Businesses who receive assistance from WBCs – like the WISE Women’s Business Center at the Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University – see a significantly better success rate than those without similar support. Through our WBC network, women entrepreneurs receive technical training, one-on-one business advising and the resources they need to start and grow their business confidently and successfully.
A second way the SBA works to level the playing field for women is through government contracting. Every year, the federal government spends billions of dollars. We want to see as many of those contracts go to women-owned small businesses as possible.
By obtaining a Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) or Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) certification at www.certify.sba.gov, those businesses are then eligible to compete for set-aside federal contracts. This can really open the door for a small business to expand substantially. In fact, during FY 2019 a total of $26 billion in prime government contracts were awarded to 15,000 women-owned small business supporting with an average award size of $1.85 million per prime contractor.
Women entrepreneurs can also take their businesses to the next level with Ascent, SBA’s new online learning platform that has free online training courses geared toward women entrepreneurs to provide skills and information needed to start, grow, expand and recover from the pandemic and other disasters.
Finally, SBA district offices – together with our network of resource partners – provide opportunities for direct access to lenders and industry experts. They host COVID-19 Resource webinars and virtual workshops, lender panels, and free events like the Metro New York Women’s Business Center’s Women’s History Month event online on March 25, 2021.
While March is a time for us to reflect on the history of women in our country, it’s also a time to look forward. Today we stand to support women entrepreneurs so that we can have a future of equality and thriving businesses owned by our country’s most determined and innovative women.
ABOUT THE U.S. SMALL BUSINESS ADMINISTRATION & SBA ATLANTIC REGION (Region II)
The U.S. Small Business Administration makes the American dream of business ownership a reality for millions of Americans. As the only go-to resource and voice for small business backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow or expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. The SBA delivers services through an extensive network of field offices, located throughout ten different regions of the country; the Atlantic Region (Region II) has 5 district offices that serve New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.