The story of the American small businesswoman is one of unparalleled perseverance, grit, and ingenuity. At the time of the first Women’s History Month, women still needed a male relative to co-sign if they were interested in applying for a business loan. Fast forward 35 years, and women-owned businesses represent more than 41% of the nation’s total firms—according to the most recent data from the U.S. Census Bureau. As Women’s Small Business Month, October is a great time to celebrate the monumental strides women entrepreneurs have taken toward creating parity in the marketplace. The observance also gives the SBA an opportunity to reaffirm its commitment to empowering women-owned small businesses through counseling, capital, and contracting support.
Learn about the ways we help women entrepreneurs continue to move the needle forward.
Counseling and Learning
Resource partners are the lifeblood of the SBA’s outreach. There are more than 900 Small Business Development Centers, 200 local chapters of SCORE business mentors, and 400 Community Navigators across the country, each offering no- or low-cost services to those who seek them. For women entrepreneurs specifically, the federal government has invested in nearly 150 Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), many of which are located at Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving Institutions, and other minority-serving institutions. WBCs are specifically designed to meet women entrepreneurs where they are, providing them with mentoring, training, and other business development resources.
The SBA also hosts a variety of learning initiatives, both online and in-person, to educate small business owners. Programs like Ascent guide women entrepreneurs through the everyday small business journey. Then there is T.H.R.I.V.E. Emerging Leaders Reimagined, an executive-level training series that helps ambitious, established owners take their business to the next level. Just look at Juanny Romero, who took what she learned in T.H.R.I.V.E. (then SBA’s Emerging Leaders) and applied it to her business, Mothership Coffee Roasters, on her way to becoming the 2023 SBA Small Business Person of the Year Runner-Up.
Capital and Contracting Opportunities
Did you know that the federal government delivered more than $10 billion in capital to women-owned small businesses through the SBA’s 7(a) and 504 loan programs over the past two fiscal years? Not only do SBA-backed loans reduce lender risk, but they also come with competitive terms and unique benefits for small business owners, such as lower down payments and flexible overhead requirements. SBA loans can be used to acquire, refinance, or improve real estate, purchase equipment, machinery, and furniture, and more. Use our Lender Match tool to connect with a lender who offers SBA-backed funding.
The federal government also aims to award at least 5% of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned businesses, a goal it has met for three straight years. The Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting Program takes the burden off eligible businesses by setting aside certain contracts.
The SBA is all in on its mission of helping women-owned businesses tap into the critical resources they need to start and grow. Join us in celebrating Women’s Small Business Month by visiting sba.gov/women!