New Opportunities for WBOs

Yesterday the leaders of women’s business organizations gathered for lunch in Washington, D.C., with representatives from federal agencies, congressional offices, and hundreds of women business owners to celebrate a milestone that was more than a decade in the making: the implementation of the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program.

While I won’t go into the 10-plus years of legal wrangling and advocacy it took to see the program finally implemented on Feb. 4 of this year, this program better positions women-owned businesses (WBOs) to meet the government’s goal, signed into law in 2000, of awarding 5 percent of all federal contracts to WBOs. To date, however, the most WBOs have been awarded is 3.6 percent. The total amount of contract dollars the federal government is estimated to award each year is $536 billion. Five percent of that would be $27 billion. While the percentage difference between 5 percent and 3.6 percent may not seem like a lot, when you calculate the dollar value that lies in the 1.4 percent gap, you’ll begin to get a clearer picture of how much money WBOs are missing out on as a result of the 5 percent goal not being met.

Federal contracts awarded to small businesses, and women-owned businesses in particular, create a win-win. Only 2.6 percent of WBOs ever reach the million dollar mark in annual revenues; however, 63 percent of WBOs holding prime contracts reach that level. Federal contracts provide WBOs with the opportunity to grow their businesses, and that very growth means job creation, expansion of capital equipment, and other goods and services, ultimately resulting in an expansion of the economy.

All of us in the room yesterday had reason to “take a victory lap,” as some of the speakers acknowledged. However, we all knew that our real work has just begun. As Joe Jordan, the Associate Administrator of Government Contracting and Business Development for the U.S. Small Business Administration, noted: “The goal is to get the goal [5%]. The program is a tool.” He implored women business leaders, women business owners, government representatives and other s to “continue to advocate, continue to agitate, continue to lend your voice. Your work is not over.”

Getting the program in place is just the beginning, even though it took 10-plus years. Now it’s time for WBOs to get out and visit government agencies, learn about the contracts, and to take advantage of the outreach underway to help you understand and benefit from the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program.

Click here for an overview of the program, eligibility requirements, and eligible industries.

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About Smart Companies Thinking Bigger®

Kelly Scanlon is the owner and publisher of Thinking Bigger Business Media. She recently finished a term on the national board of directors of the National Association of Women Business Owners, and was the national chair from 2010-2011. An advocate for small business owners, Kelly sits on numerous boards and committees to advocate on behalf of small business owners. She has won several awards for her advocacy. Among them are the 2011 United Nations NGO Positive Peace Award on behalf of Kansas City area small business owners, the U.S. Small Business Administration's Region VII Women's Business Champion of the Year in 2009, and the Women in Business Advocate of the Year from the State of Kansas in 2006. In 2002, she won the SBA's Region VII Small Business Journalist of the Year Award (Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas). Whatever your business stage—aspiring, startup, established, mature—Thinking Bigger Business Media has the resources you need to grow to the next level. We are a resource organization dedicated to providing the strategic, "how-to" information small business owners need to become more productive and more profitable. We also provide information that helps owners connect with resources within the business community that can help them grow. We deliver that information through a variety of media products and other channels easily accessible to business owners.
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