A News Lens for the Future of Women in Business

Attention Washington Leaders: Women's Businesses Have Changed. Why Haven't You Kept Up?

Dear Members and Supporters:

The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce announces a call to action to Washington leaders to stop suppressing the growth of America's women-owned firms.  A review of the facts surrounding the status of women in business shows clearly how the policies and goals of the federal government for women-owned firms have not kept pace with the times. This failure of Washington leaders to match business objectives and policies to today's realities is suppressing the growth of America's women-owned firms at a time when our tremendous movement into business ownership should be embraced and cultivated.

A recent report from the Small Business Administration, Office of Advocacy echoes this view stating,"The role of women in the industrialized economy is changing. Acknowledging this change is critical to understanding the status and dynamics of women in business and to assisting women’s business growth."

(Development in Women-owned Businesses, 1997 - 2007." Office of Advocacy, Small Business Administration. September 2011)

In 1972, women's majority ownership (50% or more) of U.S. nonfarm firms amounted to less than 5%. In 2007, the share of U.S. firms with 51% more ownership by women grew to nearly 29%.Alarmingly, even though the number of women’s business grew 44% between 1997 and 2007, our already small revenues-based market share declined over 10% – dropping from 4.41% in 1997 to 3.95% in 2007. In contrast, publicly held firms expanded their shares of the number of businesses from 1.8 percent in 1997 to 3.0 percent in 2007, and of total business receipts from 54.8 percent in 1997 to 63.6 percent in 2007.

Stop Suppressing Women's Business Growth. Right Size the Goals, Programs and Objectives for Women in Business

The U.S. Women's Chamber of Commerce has established a specific set of objectives that will help to better align today's realities with the policies and objectives of the federal government. If you are ready to support our efforts to better align our government's views and objectives for women in business, please join the USWCC and take part in our councils and issue groups.

Raise the Women-Owned Small Business Goals from a paltry and grossly outdated 5% to 10% and raise the mandate for contracting with small business from 23% to 30%. Women now own nearly 30% of all firms in America. Congress' failure to keep up with the changing dynamic of women in business has caused the growth of women-owned firms to be suppressed. Annual opportunity loss for women-owned small businesses due to outdated 5% goal is $22B.End the unwarranted policies which exclude billions of dollars of overseas spending (and other exclusions) from the small business federal contracting mandate. Washington leaders encourage small businesses to seek exporting and other global business opportunities, but then exclude overseas contracting for America's small businesses. Annual opportunity loss to small and women-owned business due to outdated rules is in excess of $50B.

Expand the WOSB/EDWOSB set-aside program to reach more firms and achieve with greater impact. Include all women-owned small businesses in the set-aside program. Include the opportunity to sole-source (as is available in the 8(a) program) to enable the reach of the program into industries where the rule-of-two cannot be met. Remove the contracting size limits. Improve the monitoring by the SBA of the self-certification program to assure only women-owned firms are accessing opportunities.

Get non-women-owned and big businesses out of our contracts. The SBA must take stronger actions and ownership of this issue. The mandate to assure a firm is a women-owned small business has been pushed to the Contracting Officer rather than verified by the SBA.

Moderate Size Standards increases to assure that the term, "small business" maintains integrity and assures that true small businesses have access to federal contracts. The current initiative to greatly increase the Size Standards for many industries goes too far -- walking away from the mandate of the SBA to foster and protect opportunities for true small businesses.

Vastly increase access to capital for small and women-owned small businesses. America's small businesses continue to be at the mercy of financial institutions that do not support Main Street businesses. Recent evidence is clear. While guaranteeing Congress that stimulus money would be used for small business loans, most banks used these funds instead to repay their own bail out debts. This double standard --- banks get bail outs while America's small businesses are left begging --- must come to an end. It is time for a real revolution at the SBA through direct lending to small businesses (then sell loans to the commercial marketplace). Additionally, a special line of credit loan program should be created to fund the cash flow needs of growing small business federal contractors who are plagued by slow paying government and prime contractors.

Right size and hold the SBA accountable for assuring goaling reports are accurate small business lending objectives are met. Year after year small business goaling reports remain questionable and businesses beg for access to capital to match their ambitions and capabilities to market opportunities.

Significantly increase the support and lending for women-owned small business exporters; set a goal of 10% of Ex-Im Bank transactions annually. While our world has become more global, our Washington leaders have not made appropriate adjustments and set high enough goals to assure growth and opportunities for small business. Remarkably, 2011 YTD transactions by the Export-Import Bank in support of women-owned firms show that only 1.01% of Ex-Im Bank export support dollars went to women-owned firms. Annual opportunity loss of lending and guarantees support in excess of $3B resulting in billions more of lost revenues.

End undue tax loopholes exploited by big business that cause small businesses to bear a greater tax burden than our big business competitors. Loophole upon loophole has been secured by big business lobbyists and creative accountants and attorneys to enable corporate giants to avoid paying their fair share of taxes in America to support our infrastructure and national defense. Small businesses end up unfairly competing with big businesses that exploit these anti-American practices. It's time to level the playing field and bring about fair, transparent and easy to comply with tax laws that restore our nation's stability and support small business competitiveness.

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