Good news for women-owned businesses in the year 2013: The government is continuing to support women in business, as evidenced by a couple recent initiatives to encourage them to pursue federal contracts. These women-owned businesses are nothing to sneeze at, either. According to research conducted by American Express OPEN, 42% of women-owned small business government contractors generate revenues in excess of $1 million, representing a force to be recognized, reckoned with - and encouraged.
The new government-backed initiatives give women-owned businesses (WOBs) an even greater level support in their endeavors toward winning lucrative government contracts. Contracting to provide goods and services to the government allows women to grow their businesses to new markets and to greater heights while creating bigger profits and jobs. Why is it important that women-owned businesses prosper? The answer: Because women-owned businesses are one of the fastest-growing segments of new business in our economy. To support their success is to help the economy thrive.
"Participation in federal contracting can be a lucrative revenue booster and a way for women entrepreneurs to create a high-growth business, explained Susan Sobbot, president of the American Express OPEN, which supports business owners with products and services to help them run and grow their businesses.
Recent Initiatives are a Boon to Women-Owned Businesses Competing for Government Contracts
In February, 2011, the Small Business Association's Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting program enabled federal agencies to set aside contracts specifically for women-owned small businesses. This program originally placed a $4 million and a $6.5 million cap on awards to women-owned businesses. Early in 2013, however, these caps were removed. According to Barbara Kasoff, President of Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), "The removal of the caps is good news not just for women business owners, but also for government agencies aiming to boost their procurement to women-owned small businesses. She goes on to characterize 2013 as "the year for women contractors."
In conjunction with the aforementioned changes to the WOSB Federal Contracting program, in April, 2013, American Express OPEN, WIPP and the SBA have joined forces to launch ChallengeHER, which is an initiative toward expanding government contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses and increasing the success of WOSB program itself.
The ChallengeHER initiative will provide more extensive support in the form of:
- free events and workshops across the nation
- online curriculum and resources pertaining to government contracting topics
- mentoring opportunities with women who are experienced at navigating the government contracting marketplace
- access to government buyers and contractors
Supporting the development and prosperity of women-owned businesses represents a winning scenario for everyone concerned. Not only will women themselves be empowered to enter and succeed in a potentially lucrative business arena, but by creating a field with an increased number of bidders, and more diverse and better-qualified competition, the government will procure higher quality goods and services.
Whether you're a federal contractor or not, it's gratifying to know that it's a priority of the government to partner with those who are likewise dedicated to supporting the growth of this important demographic, whose success will resonate throughout the economy.
How will you take advantage of "The Year for Women Contractors?"