U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announces that the SBA intends to elevate its Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) to directly report to the office of the administrator. Under Administrator Guzman, the SBA says it has expanded the number of Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) to a record 140 locations nationwide. According to the organization, these WBCs offer a network of extensive on-the-ground resources that include free to low-cost counseling, training, business development technical assistance and are dedicated to assisting women entrepreneurs to start, grow, and expand their enterprises.
“In 1972, there were a little over 400,000 women-owned businesses in the United States. Today, there are over 12 million proving that women entrepreneurs have become the fastest growing and one of the most impactful segments of the business community,” says Administrator Guzman. “While there has been historic progress in women’s entrepreneurship, significant disparities still persist, impacting women entrepreneurs’ access to resources and opportunity, especially in the face of the economic challenges posed by COVID. That is why I am proud to advance the mission of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership and reaffirm our commitment to America’s women-owned small businesses.”
“I look forward to working directly with Administrator Guzman to keep the concerns of women, especially those from underserved and disadvantaged communities, at the forefront of SBA’s executive leadership, initiatives, and programming, and I am grateful for her championship of this fast-growing and critical segment of American small businesses,” remarks Natalie Madeira Cofield, assistant administrator, Office of Women’s Business Ownership.
This announcement comes after the release of the first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality commissioned by the White House outlining objectives and priorities for obtaining equity for women.
“Women entrepreneurs are key to spurring innovation and supporting local economies and families across the country. That is why it’s so important that we continue to invest in women-owned businesses and give them the tools they need to succeed and grow. The elevation of this office sends a clear signal of this Administration’s commitment to ensure an equitable economic recovery, putting women at the forefront of our efforts to build back better for everyone. The White House Gender Policy Council looks forward to an ongoing strong partnership with the Office of Women’s Business Ownership in the months and years ahead, “ says Jennifer Klein, deputy assistant to the president and co-chair and executive director of the WH gender policy council.
Currently, the OWBO is an organizational component of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development. The SBA emphasizes that the reorganization is still in the planning stages and likely will not be finalized until the close of the fiscal year 2022; however, Cofield will begin reporting to Administrator Guzman effective immediately.