SBA out to assist women-owned firms

Federal agencies are now authorized to award sole-source contracts to eligible women-owned small businesses under a new rule issued by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The rule is designed to level the playing field for women-owned businesses competing for federal contracts.

“Women-owned businesses are growing three times faster than their counterparts, yet the federal government has not achieved its goal of awarding
5 percent of federal contracts to women. By granting contracting officers this new authority to award sole-source contracts to women-owned businesses, SBA is taking a major step forward in leveling the playing field and supporting our country’s dynamic female entrepreneurs,” said SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet. “After all, if we want a more diverse supply chain, Uncle Sam needs to lead by example.”

SBA also promotes women-owned businesses through such programs such as ChallengeHER, Women’s Business Centers and InnovateHER. In addition, the SBA has changed its lending program to make smaller dollar loans more accessible to women and created the online portal, LINC, to ease the process of finding capital to start and grow small businesses.

In Colorado, the Small Business Development Center in Pueblo will host a first-round InnovateHer women’s business competition and summit to highlight products and services that empower the lives of women and their families. The event is set for Nov. 19 with a local business competition. Winners of local competitions will advance to the semi-final round. From the semi-finalist pool, the SBA will select up to 10 finalists who will be invited to the National InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge and Summit on March 16 and 17 in Washington, D.C. The finalists will pitch their products and ideas to a panel of expert judges in competing for $70,000 in prize money.

“Women-owned businesses now account for 30 percent of all enterprises nationally, and are growing faster in number and employment than most other firms,” said Edward Cadena, director of the Colorado District SBA office “The number of women-owned businesses in Colorado has grown 55 percent over the last 18 years, employment has grown 6.5 percent and the revenue generated by them has grown 90 percent.  The InnovateHer competition will focus our attention on the vital role women have on this state’s growing and diverse economy.”