Report and hearing highlight significant obstacles faced by women entrepreneurs despite a women-led small business boom.
WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), chair of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today released a report titled, “Women’s Small Business Ownership and Entrepreneurship.” The report focuses on the challenges that women entrepreneurs face with regards to access to capital, child care services, and training programs. It also examines how these issues can be solved through the enactment of certain policies, such as legislating to make permanent the Community Advantage program, investing in universal childcare, and enacting the Women’s Business Center Improvement Act of 2023 and the SCORE for Small Business Act of 2023. The report highlights issues and solutions discussed during the hearing.
“Women lead the way, particularly Black women, in starting new small businesses. Unfortunately, they still face systemic barriers to success. We heard first-hand accounts today of why the status quo is not acceptable, and I am determined to pass bipartisan legislation that will address challenges like access to capital, gaps in mentorship, underutilization of women-owned firms in federal contracting, and underinvestment in childcare,” said Chair Cardin. “The report we released outlines many of these challenges while proposing legislative solutions that will help women entrepreneurs across the country. I thank our esteemed witnesses and look forward to building on lessons learned today to legislate urgently needed solutions.”
Excerpts from the report are below. A full copy can be found here.
- “In 2022, 25 percent of women had their loan applications denied versus 19 percent of males with 74 percent of women-owned firms relying on funds from personal savings, friends, or family over the past five years of their business operations versus 64 percent of male-owned businesses.”
- “However, since the early days of the pandemic, women-owned businesses have been a driving factor in the United States’ economic rebound. In 2022, for the third year in a row, women created about half of new U.S. businesses compared to just 29 percent pre-pandemic. Women of color, specifically Black women, have had a tremendous impact on the post-pandemic economy with the number of Black-women-owned employer businesses increasing by around 18 percent from 2017-2020, compared to a 9 percent increase in the number of women-owned businesses.”
- “The federal government’s goal is to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses each year. Since the benchmark’s establishment in 1994, the federal government has only met that goal twice: in 2015 (5.05 percent) and 2019 (5.19 percent).”
- “As women are the majority of primary caregivers, lack of childcare can severely hamper their professional ambitions and economic potential. Childcare is unaffordable for the majority of American families, forcing women, more often than men, to choose between a career and economic stability and caring for their families. This issue is exacerbated for Black and multiracial families with 13.1 percent of non-Hispanic Black individuals estimated to have quit, not taken, or changed their job due to child care issues, compared to 7.2 percent of white individuals.”
- “Public funding to support access to childcare is primarily supplied through the federal Child Credit and Development Fund (CCDF) as authorized under the Child Care Development Block Grant Act (CCDBG). This program supplies federal funding with a state match to help eligible families access child care through subsidy vouchers paid directly to the childcare provider. However, underfunding means this program only reaches 1 in 7 children, leaving many families contending with sky high costs.”
- “Role models and mentors can greatly impact career choices, trajectories, and opportunities. Mentorship is an important tool for developing networks and supporting business success. Of the current Fortune 500 companies, women represent only 10.4 percent of CEOs.”
- “Introduced by Senator Cardin (D-Md.), the Women’s Business Center Improvement Act of 2023 would modernize and strengthen the SBA’s WBC program. The legislation would raise the funding cap from $150,000 to $300,000, ensuring WBCs have more resources to meet the needs of women small business owners.”