If you’re a woman in America who is in business (or plans to be), then you should know about the Office of Women’s Business Ownership that is operated by the Small Business Administration. Their mission, in their own words, is “to establish and oversee a network of Women’s Business Centers throughout the United States and its territories.”
Government grants are available to help increase the number of these Women’s Business Centers. The WBCs provide management and technical assistance, courtesy of the government grants for women. They’re especially interested in helping women who are economically or socially disadvantaged, such as women of color, or single mothers. The services provided as a result of the government grant funds are training and counseling in all areas of business, especially help with starting a new business or expanding an existing one.
Smart entrepreneurs recognize that they can benefit from government grants whether they’re directly paid, or they’re allocated to organizations that in turn provide vital training and resources. In the long run, being provided with the tools and training to succeed can be more valuable and long-lasting than a temporary cash infusion.
Through the management and technical assistance provided by the WBCs, entrepreneurs, especially women who are economically or socially disadvantaged, are offered comprehensive training and counseling on a vast array of topics in many languages to help them start and grow their own businesses. There are Women’s Business Centers in almost every state, thanks to the government grant that supports their formation, and each center customizes its services to conform to the unique needs of the community where it’s located.
Each one, though, provides core training in finance, management, marketing, and the Internet. You can also access all of the SBA’s financial and procurement assistance programs, also subsidized through government grants. These loan programs help women access the credit and capital needed for a business, and they have a lot of funding available. In a recent fiscal year, the SBA backed nearly 10,000 loans worth about $2 billion to women entrepreneurs, while SBA-licensed intermediaries made nearly 1,230 microloans worth over $13.8 million to women’s businesses (the SBA considers a woman-owned business to be one that has at least 51 percent ownership by one or more women).
Some of the government grant funding is also allocated to helping women participate in the procurement process. They offer training in the procurement process, events to match suppliers with potential buyers (both federal and private procurers), and help with the 8(a) Business Development Program. The government has a goal of increasing to five percent the participation of women-owned small businesses, so government grants are allocated to help the SBA’s Women’s Business Centers deliver these services and achieve that goal.
Whether you’re a woman who owns a business, plans to start a business, or who wants to explore procurement opportunities, the SBA’s Women’s Business Centers can be a tremendous asset to your level of success. To find listings for your area and determine the services that are offered, visit the Small Business Administration website at www.SBA.gov.