Happy Anniversary HR 5050

You’ve come a long way baby…


As of 2012, it is estimated that there are more than 8.3 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating nearly $1.3 trillion in revenue and employing nearly 7.7 million people…. The growth in the number (up 54 percent), employment (up 9 percent) and revenues (up 58 percent) of women-owned firms over the past 15 years exceeds the growth rates of all but the largest, publicly-traded firms. —State of Women-Owned Businesses Report

More stats on women-owned firms…

  • If the U.S. women-owned firms were a country, it would have the 5th largest GDP.
  • The earning power of women in 2014 is projected to be $18 trillion.

A lot of the progress women have made in business ownership is due to H.R. 5050: Women’s Business Ownership Act. It was signed into law by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

Did you know that before the law was signed, in some states a woman had to have a male relative co-sign a business loan? That was just 25 years ago!

The bill also established the Women’s Business Center program. In 1989, only four existed, now there are over 100. California has about a dozen and they’re CAMEO members! WBC’s provide a crucial service for women as they are more sensitive to the needs of women entrepreneurs.

More accurate statistics were used to count women-owned firms. H.R. 5050 required the U.S. Census Bureau to include C corporations when presenting data on women-owned firms. According to the NAWBO, by doing so, data showed “more than double the number of people employed by women-owned businesses and one and half times the dollars in revenue.”

A post at Women in Public Policy, HR 5050 Heroines: Yesterday, Today, and Tomorrow explains the history of HR 5050 and how it came to be. The women who fought against discriminatory lending policies, also had to fight stereotypes that prevented them from being taken seriously, i.e. women business owners were mostly crafters.

Today women’s economic power means that they are taken seriously. Women entrepreneurs are the nation’s secret ingredient in the recipe for economic growth. Women-owned firms continue to grow in number at rates exceeding the national average.

But you’ve still have a long way to go…

Growing beyond the $250,000 to $499,999 revenue mark and at the 5 to 9 employee size class seems to be a particularly difficult hurdle for women-owned firms. What is the real hurdle? what does it take to overcome the challenges? Some of it has to do with the fact that women aren’t encouraged to THINK BIG.

Some of it has to do with the fact that people do business with people like them and it’s still the case that men own more businesses than women in absolute numbers.

And a change in the conversation at they policy level is needed. After fighting so hard for Women’s Business Centers, there is a danger of losing them. Some in Congress want to consolidate all of the SBA programs. And WIPP says “in 2011, only 3.98% of all government contracts were awarded to women-owned businesses – a decrease from 2010, even though federal law mandates a 5% government-wide procurement goal for women-owned small businesses.”

Government can’t even meet a small procurement goal; what they should be doing is shooting for a goal equal to the percentages of women-owned businesses (about 30%).

We need to design a new poster “The more women own businesses, the more we win.”