This opinion column was submitted by Elmy Bermejo, Regional Administrator for Region IX of the US Small Business Administration. She oversees the agency’s programs and services in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam.
The pandemic has tested the progress of the record number of women-owned businesses started over the past decade. Today, women-owned companies are driving our economy’s historic recovery and delivering some of the strongest rates of job creation and new business applications in American history. Shop Small came to the fore during the pandemic as consumers across the country saw the local economic impact of small businesses.
As newly appointed regional administrator for SBA Region IX by President Biden, I have the honor to speak with women entrepreneurs to learn how the SBA can support them so their businesses not only recover, but excel in today’s economy. SBA is committed to promoting equity by ensuring women entrepreneurs have the resources to create a level playing field.
When I speak to women entrepreneurs in the area, I am often asked the following question: How do they work with government agencies to sell their goods and services? Led by President Biden, the SBA brings “small deals” to every federal agency by transforming how the US government — the world’s largest buyer — spends billions of American taxpayer dollars on goods and services every year.
We address injustices in the federal procurement process and make changes to create a level playing field. While women own around 20% of all small businesses in the entire economy, less than 5% of US dollars in government contracts goes to women-owned small businesses. Women-owned businesses employ 10.1 million people, resulting in $1.8 trillion in revenue.
As a result of President Biden’s actions, all federal agencies have now set themselves an ambitious new goal of increasing the proportion of contracts going to small disadvantaged businesses by 50% by 2025, which would add an additional $100 billion to small disadvantaged businesses over 5 years company means.
Women-owned businesses can assess their readiness for government contracting by working with SBA resource partners, such as the Women Business Center and the Small Business Development Center, to learn how to register and work through government contractors Small Business Set-Aside Programs May Qualify.
SBA also developed the ACSENT learning platform to offer online learning opportunities specifically geared towards women entrepreneurs and this year launched its sixth journey aimed at teaching women entrepreneurs how to navigate the federal contracting world.
While the process may be intimidating, SBA resource partners are ready to help women entrepreneurs with questions and review business plans and models to better equip them for a successful business trip.
I encourage women to use SBA resources at all stages of their business. Business owner Andrea Vigil started her Las Vegas business, Allegiant Electric, a full-service kitchen-table electrical company. As a minority-owned company in a male-dominated industry, she leveraged SBA’s resource partners and credits SBA’s Emerging Leaders program for giving her the tools to help her survive the impact of the pandemic . She started her small business in 2015 with three employees, now has 27 employees, has contracts with the US Department of Veterans Affairs and is looking to purchase a building. She takes pride in mentoring other women entrepreneurs so they too can start and grow their businesses.
Each year, March is designated Women’s History Month to honor women’s contributions to American history. Today, women entrepreneurs are making history with their contributions to today’s historic boom and greatest job creation.
For more information on SBA resources, see SBA.gov.
Elmy Bermejo is the Regional Administrator for Region IX of the US Small Business Administration. She oversees the agency’s programs and services in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam.
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