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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. 


Please send information about the Phoenix, AZ event.
I am interested in attending the Atlanta GA event. I would like information on the date, time and how I sign up to attend.
Always wanted to go back to New Orleans. Now I have a reason to go! Count me in for this great opportunity!
I am interested in attending the program in San Francisco.. the dates, times, and how to sign up. I need to book an flight, so a couple of weeks notice would be great! I live in the greater LA area, if you are hosting a program here, it would be easier.. but I am willing to fly to SF.
I am interested in attending the event in New Orleans for my grant training and consulting business.
Can you send me the information on the event in Atanta, Georgia. I would like to attend.
Please consider putting many business networking opportunities online, or recording keynote speakers from events so they can be heard by registered users in their free time. This increases your reach and lowers your costs of putting on the events. Many of us are one-person businesses who cannot take time to travel (often long distances) and attend these events.
  We will also be hosting some online events, more details will be made available as dates are confirmed.
This sounds like an incredible opportunity! I'm glad the government is being so proactive to advance women-owned businesses.Just a few questions: will there be a charge to get into these events? Also, is this a one-time event or will events like this be held periodically?
  Hi Jennifer, Some events have a nominal fee associated with attendance.There have been several cities selected for ChallengeHer Opportunity Forum events, and there will be online events as well. These events will be taking place through the remainder of 2013.


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