Maria Cantwell, Chairwoman
First published July 2014
Key findings from the report include:
Women entrepreneurs still face challenges getting fair access to capital. Only 4 percent of the total dollar value of all small business loans goes to women entrepreneurs. The report proposes expanding microloans and makes SBA’s Intermediary Loan Program permanent to provide more capital to women entrepreneurs.
Women entrepreneurs still face challenges getting equal access to federal contracts. The U.S. Government has never met its goal of awarding 5 percent of federal contracts to women-owned business. If they did, women-owned businesses would have access to marketplace opportunities worth at least $4 billion each year. The report proposes changing federal law giving women-owned businesses the opportunity to win sole source federal contracts.
Women entrepreneurs still face challenges getting relevant business training and counseling. Although Women Business Centers are in nearly all 50 states and they successfully provide specialized counseling and training to women business owners, these centers have not been re-authorized since the 1990s and funding has remained flat for the same time period. The report proposes reauthorizing and funding the centers to provide adequate training and business counseling to women entrepreneurs, especially low income women.
The report was the focus of a Senate hearing also held on July 23, 2014 – Empowering Women Entrepreneurs.