WASHINGTON – In honor of Women’s History Month, the U.S. Small Business Administrationme (SBA) held a two-day virtual Women’s Business Summit on March 29-30, 2022, which drew nearly 20,000 attendees and almost 19,000 registrations for the two-day virtual summit. Attendees heard from Vice President Kamala Harris, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland, business owners, investors, entrepreneurs, and lead advisors from across the small business community on various topics, including opportunities for women-owned businesses in federal contracting, e-commerce, and innovation and invention.
The event was held in cosponsorship with the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center. It featured six panels, three fireside chats, and five “Ask the Expert” sessions with top SBA officials to help participants leverage resources and funding as they work to recover and build back better than ever.
“Our nation’s women entrepreneurs are a powerful and growing force in America’s economy. Their achievements and impacts are felt across all sectors, and their power reverberates across main streets, industrial centers, and within the fastest growing and most innovative industries,” said Administrator Guzman. “We want all of our women entrepreneurs to have the chance to succeed to start, grow, and build resilient businesses to further power our strong economic recovery. Under President Biden and Vice President Harris’s leadership, we’re committed to building a better America from the bottom up and the middle out, which is what our women entrepreneurs do every day.”
In addition to the Women’s Business Summit, the SBA also held a virtual armchair discussion on Thursday, March 31, to celebrate Women’s History Month.
Although the events have ended, content and information are still available online for anyone on the SBA Channel on YouTube.
Below is a recap of the SBA’s Women’s History Month Events:
Women’s Business Summit
DAY 1: The Women’s Business Summit kicked off with remarks by Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center Executive Director Nicola Corzine and the Bank of the West’s Head of Small & Medium Enterprise Banking at Bank of the West Michelle Di Gangi. They were followed by welcome keynote remarks by Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman and Vice President Kamala Harris.
“Women small business owners power the economy of our nation. You create jobs, you drive innovation, and you strengthen all of our communities. And since day one, our administration has been fighting on your behalf,” said Vice President Harris. “Through the SBA, we have opened Women’s Business Centers in every state in our country, 141 in total. These centers connect women business owners with the training, support, and resources that you need to succeed. And we will continue to fight to pass legislation to ensure that all women who are working so hard have access to affordable childcare, paid leave, and more.”
A fireside chat between Ariel Investments Co-CEO and President Mellody Hobson and Assistant Administrator for the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO), Natalie Madeira Cofield, followed the remarks. “I have to say I am not at all surprised by the entrepreneurial spirit of women in this era that we’re in. Women are fearless, we tend to be very brave, we’re good at bootstrapping, we have great ideas, and we can multitask. And those things all lend themselves to successful entrepreneurship. The part that we still need help with, and it’s completely understandable, is the how at times. How do you actually take this dream and this idea and manifest a reality in the life that you want?” said Co-CEO and President Hobson. “I was involved for many years with the Women’s Business Development Center in Chicago; I know how much they help and how big a difference they can make in terms of helping women entrepreneurs be very, very successful, so I applaud that network and what you’re doing there and the expansiveness of it.”
Other sessions from the first day consisted of panels concerning how to build an equitable recovery framework for women entrepreneurs following COVID-19, accessing venture capital and business loans, how SBA is supporting the CARE economy, contracting opportunities for women-owned firms, exporting and e-commerce, and the changing landscape of the entertainment industry.
The day ended with a fireside chat between Edward Jones’ Managing Partner Penny Pennington and U.S. Department of Treasury Counselor on Racial Equity Janis Bowdler, as well as closing remarks from Assistant Administrator Cofield.
“This couldn't have been more timely, more impactful, and more inspirational, and I want to say thank you on behalf of the entire team of the Office of Women's Business Ownership for both those who have joined us and those who have served as leaders and speakers,” said Assistant Administrator Cofield.
DAY 2: The day began similarly to the first day with remarks from Executive Director Corzine, Assistant Administrator Cofield, and Administrator Guzman. U.S. Department of Interior Secretary Deb Haaland also delivered keynote remarks. Her speech was followed by a fireside chat between Meta Vice President of Global Business Group Nicola Mendelsohn and SBA Senior Advisor for Delivery Ann Lewis.
“Women are fierce, and we bring important perspectives to the discussion. We deserve to be at every decision-making table. In fact, it’s the unique experiences and struggles that make good leaders,” said Secretary Haaland. “I believe that it’s the fact that women bear children and have historically been the family caregivers that makes us valuable leaders. It’s the fact that women have a different experience in the doctor’s office, in the C suite, or at a car dealership that makes us qualified to lead in places like companies, hospitals, educational institutions, and corporations. It’s the fact that women know what it’s like to be mothers, daughters, and sisters that give us the unique perspective that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s important, and each of you is important.”
The rest of the day consisted of “Ask the Expert” sessions featuring SBA officials covering innovation and investment, federal contracting, how to access SBA resource providers, exporting and international trade, and accessing loans. Women small business owners were able to ask the officials featured in the session their questions in real-time and were also given the opportunity to submit their questions ahead of time.
The day again ended with closing remarks from Assistant Administrator Cofield.
Elevating Small Business Series Webinar: Celebrating Women’s History Month
In celebration of Women’s History Month, the SBA also held a virtual armchair discussion on Thursday, March 31. The webinar featured Assistant Administrator Cofield, Women Impacting Public Policy President and CEO Candace Waterman, and President and SBA Office of Government Contracting and Business Development Acting Deputy Director Alisa Sheard.
The discussion centered on financial wellness for women-owned small businesses and the importance of increasing equity and access to opportunities that help uplift and support women entrepreneurs. The panel also discussed SBA initiatives and resources that support existing women-owned small businesses and new startups as they pivot and grow in a post-COVID world.
See photos and coverage from the event below.
Cosponsorship Authorization #21-21-C. SBA’s participation in this Cosponsored Activity is not an endorsement of the views, opinions, products or services of any Cosponsor or other person or entity. All SBA programs and services are extended to the public on a nondiscriminatory basis.
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, expand their businesses, or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit www.sba.gov.
Vice President Kamala Harris delivers welcoming remarks on the first day of the inaugural virtual Women's Business Summit on March 29, 2022.
Assistant Administrator for the SBA’s Office of Women’s Business Ownership Natalie Madeira Cofield and Ariel Investments Co-CEO and President Mellody Hobson participate in a fireside chat during the inaugural virtual Women's Business Summit.