SBA offers help to women in business

Matt Varilek

As the recently appointed Region VIII administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), I’m proud to recognize a milestone close to my heart. This year marks the 25th anniversary of enactment of the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988. This landmark legislation laid the foundation for increased federal support of women-owned businesses, now one of the largest and fastest-growing segments of the economy. This milestone is also significant for me because my wife happens to be among the 8.1 million women business owners in the United States. The SBA offers a wide range of programs and services to help women establish and grow their small businesses.

Loan programs: The SBA offers a variety of loan programs that can finance the purchase or improvement of real estate, machinery, equipment and inventory as well as assist in the acquisition, operation or expansion of an existing business. SBA also backs working capital loans and revolving lines of credit as well as loans to refinance existing debt under certain conditions. According to the Urban Institute, loans backed by an SBA guarantee are three to five times more likely to go to women than non-SBA loans.

As of May 13, the SBA had guaranteed 150 loans worth a total of $63.7 million to women-owned businesses in Colorado during the 2013 fiscal year. That accounts for about 18 percent of overall dollar volume so far.

Training and counseling: The network of Small Business Development Centers in Colorado, including the center in Grand Junction, provides free and confidential consulting and low-cost training programs. These centers offer assistance in leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs who still face unique business obstacles.

In addition, the SBDC has scheduled the fourth annual Southwest Colorado Women’s Small Business Conference for July 12 in Durango.

For more information about available services and programs, contact the Grand Junction center at 243-5242.

Contracting: At the SBA, one of our priorities is making sure more qualified women-owned small businesses have access to government and commercial supply chain opportunities. That’s why we put the women’s contracting rule into place. Federal agencies must set aside contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses in more than 300 industries in which women are underrepresented.

 Our latest efforts to engage women-owned small businesses in the federal procurement process include the ChallengeHER Campaign, an exciting new initiative that leverages the resources of SBA and our partners at Women in Public Policy and American Express OPEN to promote the women-owned small business federal contract program and bring more women-owned firms into the federal government supply chain.

 The SBA is committed to helping women entrepreneurs because we know how much potential they have to contribute even more to economic growth. To learn more about how SBA can help your business, call us at (303) 844-2607 or visit