The US Federal Government offers a variety of support for existing and aspiring women entrepreneurs. Typically, assistance can be found in three general areas; Technical Assistance, Financial Assistance and Federal Contracting Opportunities.
Information is empowering!
Take advantage of the many resources available to educate, counsel, and network women owned businesses. For example, SBA’s Women’s Business Center Program comprises a national network of WBCs providing business training, counseling and other resources to help women start and grow successful businesses. You may also investigate organizations in your community, such as the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), National Association of Female Executives (NAFE), and the Business and Professional Women (BPW). Your Chamber of Commerce, local SCORE Chapter or Small Business Development Center may also be able to identify programs of interest and services available in the area.
There is no federal grant money for individual business owners. Even though many publications and talk shows publicize grants to small businesses, the only grants available from SBA are for non-profit women’s business centers that provide training for women who want to start or expand their businesses. The other grant program is for research and development for technology-based products and services for the government. However, the SBA has an excellent financial assistance program, which encourages bankers to help small businesses. That includes Women Owned Small Businesses.
Selling to Uncle Sam.
The Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 (P.L.103-355) (FASA) established the government wide goal for participation by small business concerns owned and controlled by women at not less than 5% of the total value of all prime contract and subcontract awards for each fiscal year.
Because of the 5 percent procurement goal for women established by FASA, federal agencies have a strong incentive to look for qualified women-owned businesses when filling contractual needs.
Government contracts can be a great source of business revenue for both new and established businesses. But to get those contracts, you have to understand the process and how to navigate it successfully. Procurement Technical Assistance Centers (PTAC) are organizations designed to specifically provide technical assistance in the area of government contracting.
As you can see, there is help available. Besides the federal sources listed above, you may find state and local government assistance also. And as always, although I may be a tad prejudiced, you can always contact your local SBA office for more information!
*SBA’s participation in this blog does not constitute an endorsement of the William E. Simon Graduate School of Business Administration or any other person or entity. SBA’s programs and services are provided to the public on a non-discriminatory basis.