#PressforProgress to Lift Women’s Entrepreneurship  

By at 8 March, 2018, 2:11 pm

Small Business Insider

By Karen Kerrigan

For International Women’s Day, SBE Council is celebrating the amazing growth of women’s entrepreneurship and the significant role women-owned businesses play in the U.S. economy. The impact is powerful.

According to SBA Office of Advocacy research, women are the majority owners of 9.9 million businesses, which generate $1.4 trillion in sales.  Add in firms that are jointly-owned by women (another 2.5 million) and the sales revenue impact jumps to $2.5 trillion.  As majority and joint business owners, women entrepreneurs generate $453 billion in payroll for 14.9 million workers through nearly 12.4 million businesses.

Indeed, the growth in women’s entrepreneurship is staggering. However, prior to the passage of the Women’s Business Ownership Act (H.R. 5050), signed by President Ronald Reagan in 1988, the barriers to women’s business ownership were very significant.

H.R. 5050 eliminated remaining state laws that required women to get a male relative to co-sign a loan (thus, improving access to capital), created the National Women’s Business Council (giving women entrepreneurs a high-level voice on policy), established the Women’s Business Center program (providing women with educational and entrepreneurial support) and required the Census Bureau to include women-owned C corporations in its data.

The National Association of Women Business Owner (NAWBO) recently published the white paper “Spotlight on H.R. 5050,” which highlights key details of this historic legislation.  As Virginia Littlejohn noted about H.R. 5050’s impact, “it truly was the Big Bang, it transformed the landscape for women’s entrepreneurship.”

Despite the extraordinary progress made in advancing policies combined with the many private-sector initiatives that have encouraged women business-owner startup and growth, barriers remain.  Access to capital, access to networks and – to those lacking mobility or broadband – access to quality educational programs, content and mentors are roadblocks to support and engagement.

That’s why Congress must continue to focus on the key issues and policy solutions that will encourage and boost entrepreneurship and small business growth.  SBE Council continues to advocate for our core policy priorities every day, which will enable more women to pursue their dream of starting a business, and, once they launch, to successfully scale and compete in the global economy.  For example, our focus on capital access, broadband access and deployment, regulatory system transformation and reform, global trade and strengthening IP, and an affordable and competitive health care system will foster a policy ecosystem that will help more women take that first step, and then grow their enterprises with confidence.

The theme of International Women’s Day 2018 is #PressforProgress, which is the perfect call-to-action for women entrepreneurs.  It is critical that women business owners continue to press for improvements on capital access and access to markets, while spotlighting the many successful women entrepreneurs who have overcome barriers on the path to success.  We must not discount or underestimate the power of role models in encouraging more women to pursue financial independence and success through entrepreneurial risk-taking.

Let’s pledge to #PressforProgress each day. Happy International Women’s Day to women across the world!

Karen Kerrigan is president & CEO of the Small Business & Entrepreneurship Council.  She served as an appointed member of the National Women’s Business Council and sits on NAWBO’s national advisory board.

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