Committee Calls for More Data, Support Targeted to Female Entrepreneurs
While female entrepreneurs continue to increase their contributions to the U.S. economy, a new report suggests that Congress can and should do more to help them start and scale new firms. 21st Century Barriers to Women’s Entrepreneurship, a report released last week by the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, identified three primary challenges: fair access to capital, fair access to federal contracts and business training and counseling specific to female entrepreneurs.
The report points to a lack of timely data – with the 2007 Survey of Business Owners “the last substantial government-sponsored research and widespread data collection on women’s business” – that it suggests makes it difficult to analyze the situation and take definitive action that best serves female entrepreneurs.
Despite the paucity of data, the committee report says it can safely identify a number of critical action steps for Congress, including:
- Increase the maximum loan the SBA can make to a qualified micro-lending intermediary to allow high-performing lenders to make more loans;
- Eliminate restrictions and red-tape, which have been in place since the SBA Microloan Program was authorized in 1991, by modernizing technical assistance and formula funding requirements;
- Reauthorize the Intermediary Lending Program, which serves a critical lending gap between $50,000 and $200,000, as a permanent program; and,
- Increase Women’s Business Center program funding and increase grant award ceilings, which will allow centers to receive more funding – in turn enabling them to offer more services to a greater number of women entrepreneurs
- Enact legislation to allow sole source contracts to be awarded to women-owned small businesses and economically disadvantaged women-owned small businesses through the WOSB Procurement Program.
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