Women’s History Month is celebrated annually in March to recognize and honor the contributions and achievements of women in American history. This month also provides an opportunity to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment. The General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization (OSDBU) is celebrating Women’s History Month by highlighting resources available to women-owned small businesses (WOSBs) to help them successfully navigate the federal marketplace. In addition, the Small Business Administration (SBA) offers a range of resources designed specifically for women entrepreneurs. This article discusses the GSA and SBA resources available to WOSBs to help them succeed in the federal marketplace.
GSA Resources for Women-Owned Small Businesses
The GSA OSDBU provides training, resources, and guidance to small businesses to help them maximize their opportunities to win business. The following are some of the resources that WOSBs can take advantage of to succeed in the federal marketplace:
The GSA OSDBU Events Page provides information on upcoming training opportunities for small businesses. WOSBs can learn about various topics such as marketing their contract, finding government contracting opportunities, and navigating the federal marketplace. Attending these events can help WOSBs learn about the latest trends, technologies, and regulations that affect their business.
Small Business Resources
The GSA Small Business Resources page provides WOSBs with information on how to do business with GSA, government contracting opportunities, and marketing their contract. This page includes information on the GSA Schedule Program, which is a contract vehicle that enables federal agencies to buy products and services from commercial businesses at pre-negotiated prices.
Government Contracting Factsheets
The GSA Government Contracting Factsheets provide WOSBs with guidance, information, and resources to help them find opportunities and navigate the federal marketplace. These factsheets cover topics such as contracting with the federal government, subcontracting opportunities, and understanding the GSA Schedule Program.
Video on Set-Aside Contracts
The GSA OSDBU provides a video that teaches WOSBs how to compete for set-aside contracts. Set-aside contracts are contracts that are reserved for small businesses, including WOSBs. This video provides guidance on how WOSBs can compete for these contracts and increase their chances of winning them.
Virtual Matchmaking Event
The GSA and U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce are hosting a virtual matchmaking event on March 23. The event will connect WOSBs with GSA large business prime contractors and federal agencies during 15-minute roundtable matchmaking sessions. The goal of this event is to support WOSBs by engaging in purposeful discussions and meaningful connections around subcontracting opportunities. WOSBs should not miss out on this opportunity to network with potential clients.
SBA Resources for Women Entrepreneurs
The SBA provides a range of resources designed specifically for women entrepreneurs. These resources are aimed at women who are ready to launch a business, want to learn more about growing and expanding their business, or need assistance in applying for funding. The following are some of the resources that WOSBs can take advantage of to succeed in the federal marketplace:
Women’s Business Centers
The SBA Women’s Business Centers provide free to low-cost counseling and training for WOSBs. These centers are located across the country and offer various services such as business counseling, training, and mentoring.
SBA Loan Programs for Women-Owned Small Businesses
SBA’s loan programs provide access to capital for small businesses that may have difficulty obtaining funding through traditional channels. The agency offers a variety of loan programs designed to meet the needs of small businesses, including women-owned small businesses. These loan programs include:
- 7(a) Loan Program: This is the SBA’s primary loan program and provides loans of up to $5 million to small businesses that are unable to obtain credit elsewhere. The program is designed to provide funds for a variety of business purposes, including working capital, inventory, and equipment. Women-owned businesses can also apply for the SBA Express Loan, which offers expedited processing for loans up to $350,000.
- Microloan Program: The Microloan Program provides loans of up to $50,000 to small businesses, including women-owned businesses. These loans can be used for working capital, inventory, supplies, and equipment. The program is designed to assist startups and existing businesses that require small amounts of capital to get started or to expand.
- Community Advantage Loan Program: This program provides loans of up to $250,000 to small businesses located in underserved markets, including women-owned businesses. The program is designed to assist businesses that may have difficulty obtaining credit through traditional channels.
- 504 Loan Program: The 504 Loan Program provides long-term, fixed-rate financing to small businesses for the acquisition of real estate, equipment, and other fixed assets. The program is designed to assist small businesses that are creating jobs or contributing to the local economy. Women-owned businesses can apply for the program as well.
In addition to these loan programs, SBA also offers a Surety Bond Guarantee Program, which helps small businesses obtain surety bonds for federal, state, and local government contracts. This program can be particularly helpful for women-owned businesses that are new to government contracting and may not have an established track record.
Office of Women’s Business Ownership
The Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) is a program established by the Small Business Administration (SBA) to support and empower women entrepreneurs through advocacy, outreach, education, and support. OWBO helps women start and grow their own businesses, provides training and counseling services, and advocates for policies that promote women-owned businesses’ growth and success.
OWBO offers comprehensive training and counseling services to women entrepreneurs across the United States. The services offered by OWBO include:
Business counseling: OWBO provides one-on-one counseling sessions to women entrepreneurs to help them navigate the challenges of starting and growing a business. They provide expert advice on topics such as financing, marketing, business planning, and legal and regulatory compliance.
Training programs: OWBO offers a variety of training programs designed to help women entrepreneurs develop the skills and knowledge they need to succeed in business. The training programs include courses on starting a business, marketing, financing, and more.
Access to capital: OWBO provides advice and counseling on finding capital for women-owned businesses. They also provide information on loan programs, grants, and other funding opportunities.
Advocacy: OWBO advocates for policies that promote women-owned businesses’ growth and success. They work with policymakers to develop policies and programs that support women entrepreneurs and help them succeed in the marketplace.
Women’s Business Centers: OWBO supports a network of Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) across the United States. These centers offer free to low-cost counseling and training to women entrepreneurs. They provide expert advice on starting and growing a business, accessing capital, and more.
Ascent: Ascent is a free learning platform for women entrepreneurs. The platform provides access to a wide range of resources and training materials designed to help women entrepreneurs start and grow successful businesses.
Women’s History Month: OWBO provides additional Women’s History Month resources for women-owned small businesses. These resources include webinars, training materials, and more.
OWBO’s programs and services have helped thousands of women entrepreneurs start and grow successful businesses. According to the SBA, the WBC program served more than 150,000 clients in 2019 alone, and helped entrepreneurs access more than $218 million in capital. The WOSB Federal Contracting Program has also been successful, with more than $516 million in prime contracts awarded to women-owned small businesses by GSA in fiscal year 2021.
Women’s History Month is a time to celebrate the achievements of women and recognize the challenges they have overcome. The General Services Administration and the Small Business Administration offer various resources to help women-owned small businesses succeed in the federal marketplace. From counseling and training to funding and certification programs, these resources provide the necessary support for women entrepreneurs to navigate the competitive federal contracting space. By leveraging these resources, women-owned small businesses can play a critical role in advancing the government’s mission while growing their businesses and creating jobs.