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ChallengeHER: Creating Procurement Access and Opportunity for Women-Owned Small Businesses

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ChallengeHER: Creating Procurement Access and Opportunity for Women-Owned Small Businesses

By Marie Johns, Former Deputy Administrator
Published: April 23, 2013 Updated: April 23, 2013


Federal contracting with small businesses is a win-win.  Every year, the U.S. government awards nearly $100 billion in federal contracts to small businesses, allowing these businesses to grow their revenues and create jobs right here at home.  Meanwhile, the federal government gets the chance to work with some of the most responsive, innovative and nimble companies in the United States.

During the first three years of the Obama Administration, the federal government awarded $286.3 billion in federal contract dollars to small businesses—a $32 billion increase over the three preceding years, even as contracting spending overall has declined across the federal government. 

Across the board, the Obama Administration and U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) are committed to providing access and removing barriers for small, minority, women-owned, and disadvantaged businesses by changing the process and the culture surrounding federal contracting.

We’re proud of our achievements so far in implementing the Woman Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program and we are making strides in bringing more women-owned firms into the federal government’s supply chain.

Today, I had the opportunity to announce our latest efforts to engage women-owned small businesses in the federal procurement process at the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Opportunity Forum Luncheon presented by SBA, Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), and American Express OPEN, here in Washington, D.C.

The ChallengeHER Campaign is an exciting new initiative that leverages the resources of SBA, WIPP, and American Express OPEN to promote the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program and bring more women-owned firms into the federal government’s supply chain.

In the coming months, we’ll be hosting ChallengeHER events across the country to help women business owners better understand the procurement opportunities available from the federal government, including events in:

  • Phoenix, AZ;
  • Seattle, WA;
  • New Orleans, LA;
  • Denver, CO;
  • Atlanta, GA;
  • San Francisco, CA; and,
  • New York, NY.

At these events, we’ll also be playing “matchmaker”—connecting women-owned small businesses with the decision-makers and contract opportunities housed by our federal partners, both at the national level and in their local communities.  And by increasing our family of women-owned small businesses, government contracting officers will have a broader base to consider when making their purchasing decisions.

We’ll also be training women-owned small businesses on how to register in our System for Award Management, which serves as our government contracting portal for all small business owners that want to do business with the federal government, and learn about eligibility requirements for the Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract Program, which allows contract set asides for women-owned small businesses in certain industries.

A robust supply chain of innovative small businesses makes our country more globally competitive, encourages more corporations to bring production back to the U.S., and helps create jobs here at home. Our goal, and the goal of the ChallengeHER Campaign, is to ensure that women-owned small businesses across the country have the access and opportunity they need to succeed.

 Stay tuned for further information on the ChallengeHER Campaign and events near you.

About the Author:

Marie Johns

Former Deputy Administrator

Marie Johns is a former Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. 


All I can think is, "Oh my God another SBA initiative designed specifically to lure women owned businesses into the arduous federal contracting process," with no clear 'end game' other than to bring more women-owned firms into the federal government’s supply chain. Though well meaning I'm sure, I see nothing about SBA oversight or any related actions that insure revenue or procurement outcomes.
Will there be an event in Chicago, IL.?
Hi! This is so exciting! I don't know how much call there may be for my services, but i'm certainly eager to learn more! I will not be able to plan on being at any of the big ChallengHER Conferences, unfortunately.... will yoiu be doing some webinars and such for those of us who want to be in the know from the 'top of the day' when this program dawns??...and will there me any 'match-making' assistance for those that show great interest, despit inability to attend?? I'm hoping! I have added this site to my list of sites to update as soon as my new internet homw launches, the middle of next month -- I will want to be sure the site that represents my business-related work is available for anyone seeking services in my niche... thanks for keeping us all in the loop! Maybe even though I'm remote for all of the conferences, I'll luck out and be able to land some contracts through Ft. Missoula, or Malmstrom AFB, just the same! have a great day - Doree
Hi Doree, yes, we will also be hosting some online events. More details will be made available as dates are confirmed.
Perhaps a gotomeeting or webinar can be used for those too far away to drive?
  Additional cities may be identified for events, and we will also be hosting some online events.
I would like to register for either the NY event or the one in Atlanta. Would appreciate links to both events. Thanks
Would it be possible to have an event in Dallas, TX?
How do I register for the Atlanta event? Please provide the link. Thanks
Please schedule event in Los Angeles as well. Thanks!


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