SBA establishes centers for women-owned businesses

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The U.S. saw historic small business growth in 2021, with new business applications 20% higher than any year on record. Women-owned businesses continue to lead the way with the highest startup rates.

Washington, D.C.—The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced the opening of five new Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) during National Small Business Week earlier this month. The new centers, which highlight the SBA’s continued commitment to leveling the playing field for women small business owners, will be facilitated through the Minority Serving Institutions (MSI) program.

“The SBA is committed to creating inclusive entrepreneurial support ecosystems so that any of our new—as well as our established—women entrepreneurs can successfully pursue their American dreams of starting, growing and building resilient businesses,” said Isabella Casillas Guzman, SBA administrator. “With SBA’s opening of five new Women’s Business Centers at MSIs across our country, we can help improve outcomes so they can do what they do best—create jobs, power our economy and build a better America through entrepreneurship.”

The five new WBCs span four states, including California, Alabama, North Carolina and Maryland. The specific MSIs are as follows:

  • California State University, Fresno Foundation
  • CSU Fullerton Auxiliary Services Corporation on behalf of California State University, Fullerton
  • Miles College Center for Economic and Social Justice
  • National Institute of Minority Economic Development, Inc. on behalf of Bennett College
  • Rockville Economic Development on behalf of Bowie State University

The new WBCs will: support technical assistance to women entrepreneurs; assist nascent entrepreneurs in business plan development and accessing capital; provide educational experiences for MSI students interested in entrepreneurship; offer outreach services and activities, including training, workshops and information dissemination to MSI students; and support the development and dissemination of curricula, training materials, guides and evidence-based practices that can be used to enhance entrepreneurship education.

Role of MSIs

MSIs are institutions of higher education that serve minority populations. They are unique both in their missions and in their day-to-day operations. Some of these colleges and universities are located in remote regions of the country, whereas others serve urban neighborhoods. Some are only a few decades old, whereas others have been striving for more than a century to give their constituents the social and educational skills needed to overcome racial discrimination and limited economic opportunities. Through Presidential Executive Orders and special legislation enacted over the past 20 years, MSIs have accessed Department of the Interior funds and leveraged other departmental resources on behalf of their students and communities.

“We continue to see gaps in access to equitable resources for the growing community of women entrepreneurs,” said Natalie Madeira Cofield, assistant administrator, SBA Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO). “Under the leadership of administrator Guzman, OWBO looks forward to continuing to create initiatives to ensure that SBA resources reach every woman entrepreneur no matter their race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status or location.”

This latest announcement marks the continued expansion by OWBO to support the largest WBC network in the history of the SBA. Back in March, OWBO announced the expansion of its national WBC network to all 50 states and Puerto Rico after it launched its 141st WBC in Anchorage, Alaska. Since March 2021 alone, 25 new WBCs have opened. Among the newest WBCs are three affiliated with Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and two in Puerto Rico.

Along with SBA’s extensive resource partner network, WBCs are part of an SBA-wide effort to offer one-on-one counseling, training, networking, workshops, technical assistance and mentoring to entrepreneurs on numerous business development topics, including business startup, financial management, marketing and procurement. Through the Community Navigators Pilot Program alone, 27 of 51 hub organizations will focus primarily on supporting women business owners.

In addition, the WBC network helps entrepreneurs pivot, grow and navigate new opportunities created through President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, such as contracting, competing in the burgeoning industries solving climate change, and helping expand global exporting. By broadening its access to capital pipelines, the SBA has also directly invested in women entrepreneurs through critical programs such as the Restaurant Revitalization Fund ($7.5 billion distributed to women-owned businesses), 7(a) loan program ($5 billion) and 504 program ($712 million) while awarding over $27 billion in government contracts to women-owned businesses.

This historic funding announcement builds on strategies outlined in the recently released SBA Equity Action Plan. “Under the leadership of the Biden-Harris Administration, our nation has seen a historic small business boom with 2021 new business applications 20% higher than any year on record,” administrator Guzman said. “And women, especially women of color, continue to lead the way with the highest startup rates.”

To find other WBC locations and additional SBA resources, visit here.

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