4:26 PM August 1, 2014
Last week WIPP held our 2014 Annual Leadership Meeting, which has proved to be one of the most impactful meetings in the history of the organization. On the first day of the Leadership Meeting, Wednesday, July 23rd, WIPP attended a Senate Hearing on Women's Entrepreneurship. WIPP was accompanied by over 250 Women Business Owners from across the country, packing the Senate's largest hearing room, which has only happened twice before, once by President Bill Clinton and once by Bill Gates.
At the Senate hearing, Chair Maria Cantwell released a report identifying three specific issues that are limiting growth to women-owned businesses that were discussed in the hearing:
- Challenges getting fair access to capital
- Equal access to federal contracts
- Relevant business training and counseling
In the area of capital, women business owners account for only 4% of total dollar value of small business loans and only 7% of venture funds. Since Congress established a 5% set-aside for federal contracts awarded to women-owned companies in 2000, the highest achievement has only reached 2.47 percent. Access to training for business growth has been hamstrung by funding uncertainty since the 1990s.
Witness after witness shared testimony on these persistent challenges that Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB's) face, including our own WIPP member Lynn Sutton, CEO of Advantage Building Contractors in Atlanta. Sutton testified at the hearing stressing the need to provide the WOSB Federal Contract program with sole source authority. In addition, SBA Administrator Maria Contreras-Sweet, Barbara Corcoran of ABC's Shark Tank, and Nely Galan, former president of Telemundo all spoke before the Committee.
11:24 PM July 22, 2014
Mobile Technology to Help Spur Discussion Among Advocates for Women in Business and Identify Key Policy Topics for Elected Officials
SAN FRANCISCO and WASHINGTON, DC - July 23, 2014 - DoubleDutch, the leading developer of mobile event technology systems, today announced it is powering the Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) Annual Leadership Meeting, occurring July 23-24 in Washington, D.C. The DoubleDutch app will help attendees engage in conversation around policy issues and empower them to share those conversations with their congressional representatives.
WIPP represents 4.7 million businesswomen, keeping them apprised of legislative initiatives and economic policies that directly influence business growth. The two-day Annual Leadership Meeting brings together 150 advocates for general education and networking. Attendees visit with members of Congress and the Senate over the course of the conference to address issues of interest. The event organizers selected the DoubleDutch platform to help identify high-priority topics and facilitate conversation.
"We work with our members every year to ascertain which issues are priorities for them, so that we can best represent them to their elected officials," said Barbara Kasoff, president and co-founder of WIPP. "By using a DoubleDutch app for our conference this year, we've been able to systematize and streamline that process, and synthesize the information we gather in a social, shareable way."
The conference will capitalize on DoubleDutch social features to facilitate stronger networking and connect attendees with other state-level advocacy groups. Attendees have the opportunity to submit questions for their representatives through the app, and responses will be featured on a post-event webinar. WIPP organizers made the DoubleDutch app available before the event started, allowing attendees to learn what to expect at this year's conference, and to spark social engagement for increased political advocacy.
"Intuitive social features are part of what make a DoubleDutch app so valuable to an event, and WIPP attendees will have a single platform for discussion and engagement," said Lawrence Coburn, CEO and co-founder of DoubleDutch. "We're honored to help WIPP increase dialogue around women and entrepreneurship."
The Women Impacting Public Policy app powered by DoubleDutch is available for download here: http://ddut.ch/wipp
About DoubleDutch DoubleDutch is an award-winning provider of mobile event applications, with a unique focus on capturing and surfacing data from live events. The first to bring a data-driven technology approach to the event industry, DoubleDutch customers include SAP, AMEX, Ralph Lauren, 3M, and Bath & Body Works. Thrill attendees and demonstrate event ROI with a branded DoubleDutch app today. http://doubledutch.me
About Women Impacting Public Policy WIPP is a national nonpartisan public policy organization advocating on behalf of its coalition of 4.7 million businesswomen including 75 business organizations. WIPP identifies important trends and opportunities and provides a collaborative model for the public and private sectors to increase the economic power of women-owned businesses. For more information, please visit www.wipp.org.
10:31 AM July 18, 2014
By Charlotte Baker, CEO, Digital Hands
WIPP Education Foundation Board Member
As a business woman who started and built Digital Hands and several other companies, I joined WIPP to create a voice for my company and those of other women and to contribute to our entrepreneurial community. WIPP not only welcomes women as business owners, but embraces them as colleagues and friends. I gained insights from other female CEOs facing the same government contracting challenges, and shared the right (and wrong) decisions that have facilitated the growth of our Federal business practice.
Yesterday, making my voice "heard" took on a more literal meaning when I testified to the House Small Business Committee, on behalf of WIPP, regarding the enforcement of the SBA's procurement policy.
My testimony urged the Small Business Administration, whose delays in implementing policies already passed by Congress, to hasten their rulemaking process. (For those who are unfamiliar, even after laws go into effect, government agencies must "promulgate" rules with details about their implementation). Essentially, I shared how the SBA's delay has caused my company, and other women-owned businesses, to miss out on contracting opportunities.
Digital Hands looks forward to the implementation of the "Similarly Situated Entity" provision, which would lift some subcontracting restrictions as it relates to multiple small businesses working together on a federal contract. Recently, Digital Hands lost the opportunity to work with another EDWOSB firm - because this law has not been fully implemented. An additional policy change would simplify the subcontracting restrictions to 50% of the contract value, doing away with the complex labor cost system currently in place. WIPP advocated for both changes (Board Chair Jennifer Bisceglie testified on these issues in 2011). Ultimately, they were passed by Congress and signed into law by the President. As of yet they are not in place, causing many business owners to be frustrated when they are "shut out" of agency opportunities
For this reason, I took my turn as an advocate yesterday and flew to Washington to share my thoughts and experiences. Because of WIPP's strong history of advocacy on behalf of women business owners' issues, their government relations team provided policy knowledge and background as well as member comments as talking points for the testimony. Congressional Representatives, from both sides of the aisle listened, questioned, and commented. I had the attention of those ultimately responsible for contracting laws.
The result? Following my testimony and the testimony of other advocates, the SBA Associate Administrator in charge of contracting addressed our concerns. He reported that the rule WIPP requested is in its final stages of review before publication. Moreover, SBA recognized WIPP as leading the charge for women in the contracting community.
At the conclusion of the testimony, I was pleased and honored to be a voice for WIPP and an advocate for women business owners nationwide. Public policy is never perfect and the pace of change often runs contrary to what's demanded in the commercial world. However, it was encouraging to realize that members of Congress and the Administration are having some frank conversation about advancing initiatives that help small businesses. WIPP had a seat at that table, and I was honored to fill it.
Charlotte Baker is CEO and Founder of Digital Hands, a certified woman-owned small business (EDWOSB), providing IT operations support with core capabilities in cyber security, infrastructure management, and help desk. She is currently serving as a member of WIPP's Education Foundation Board.
11:37 AM July 17, 2014
By: Maria Contreras-Sweet, SBA Administrator as seen on the SBA Blog
It has been an exhilarating first 100 days on the job. When I was sworn in as SBA Administrator in April, I promised to "get more loans into the hands of entrepreneurs who reflect the diversity of America by making it easier for community banks and microlenders to become our partners."
Following up on this promise, I recently announced a transformative new plan to automate SBA lending and streamline and simplify the agency's underwriting process to attract more lending partners and open up new markets for small business owners who need capital to expand and grow. Days after this announcement, which will ease the burdens on lenders approving small-dollar loans to entrepreneurs, I appeared at a Clinton Global Initiative conference in Denver to help announce an exciting commitment called the Century Club. Eight Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) each pledged to make at least 100 small business loans a year for the next 10 years, which will inject $1 billion of additional capital into America's small business ecosystem.
Last week, we continued our progress in expanding access to capital. At the White House, I joined President Obama to announce a new initiative called SupplierPay. More than two dozen major corporations pledged to pay their small business suppliers faster and offer other creative financing solutions to get entrepreneurs access to affordable working capital so they have the payment certainty to make new hires and grow their companies.
We've also been focused on creating new opportunities for our veterans who wish to translate their military leadership skills into opportunities to serve their country as civilian job creators. We "rebooted" our popular Boots to Business entrepreneurship program - a two-day crash course in starting a small business followed by an eight-week, instructor-led online course. We're now conducting this program for transitioning service members at more than 200 military installations worldwide. And last week at the White House, we expanded this initiative to serve veterans who've already transitioned out.
At Twitter headquarters, the SBA launched a new competition for entities - university incubators or local nonprofits - that help seed start-ups by offering up office space, mentoring, networking, business-plan assistance, and sometimes startup capital, too. We're exporting the Silicon Valley support model to communities in Middle America. The competition will fund up to 50 accelerators that are focused on key industries like clean energy and health care, as well as those focused on underserved populations, including women entrepreneurs, minorities, and small business owners in distressed urban and rural areas.
In recognition of the reality that there are still communities disproportionately struggling in the aftermath of the Great Recession, I also launched Scale-Up America - another competitive program that will bring intensive SBA assistance to up to 14 cities with strong small business growth potential. We're excited about this program, because more than 90 percent of new jobs generated by small businesses come from the expansion of existing businesses.
Finally, as an immigrant myself, I was proud to represent the United States in El Salvador to meet with the country's new leadership and recognize the peaceful succession of President Salvador Sánchez Cerén. I had the opportunity to meet with Salvadoran small business owners, who provide 70 percent of the country's jobs, and promote the bilateral Partnership for Growth plan signed by both nations in recognition of the increasingly important role Latin American nations are playing in the global economy.
These first 100 days have been a whirlwind, and I am buoyed by the energy and optimism of all the entrepreneurs I've met in cities across America. There's still so much more to do. I hope you'll contact me on Twitter @MCS4biz to keep the dialogue going as we continue our forward momentum into the fall.
4:17 PM July 15, 2014
By Kristie Arslan, WIPP Executive Director
This is exactly how advocacy is meant to work. Over the last two weeks, WIPP busily met with Senate offices across Capitol Hill to garner support for the Women's Small Business Procurement Parity Act (S. 2481)--the sole source authority bill WIPP has pushed for. These meetings follow months (years, really) of efforts to make this legislation a reality, and now it is our time to "walk the talk" and get it done.
That is why I was thrilled when fifteen WIPP members joined me and our government relations team to voice their support and share their stories with the Senate.
The urgency of our campaign was eloquently conveyed as federal contractors detailed the potential impacts of the bill, shared personal experiences and struggles with federal contracting, and discussed the positive effects that sole source authority would have on women-owned small businesses. WIPP members spoke of the significance of obtaining their first contract (as it got the proverbial "foot in the door," making it easier for them to obtain more contracts), and the financial constraints and frustration caused by the inequity between small business contracting programs. WIPP was also there to share our history - more than ten years in the making - with the Women Owned Small Business Federal Contract program.
The trips to the Hill were a great success--and the Senate was receptive to the insights of WIPP members. Already, two additional Senators have signed on to the bill as co-sponsors. More Hill visits to meet with Senators will be taking place during WIPP's Annual Leadership Meeting from July 23-24, 2014. I greatly encourage you to put on your advocacy hat, and join us for an engaged meeting of women business leaders.
If you cannot join us, I urge you to send a letter of support for S. 2481 to your Senator--all of which can be done in a short visit the WIPP Action Alert Center. Also, WIPP will be launching a campaign to help you "Tell Your Story" about your experience as federal contractor and how sole source authority for the WOSB program could benefit your business. WIPP will collect these stories and share them with Senators.
These last few months (my first as WIPP's Executive Director) have been advocacy in action, truly earning our name as Women Impacting Public Policy.