WASHINGTON, D.C. —Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, welcomed two Massachusetts business champions at today’s “Opportunities and Challenges for Women Entrepreneurs on the 20th Anniversary of the Women’s Business Ownership Act” roundtable event.

Kip Hollister, a participant at the roundtable, is founder and CEO of Hollister, Inc., a recruiting and job placement firm in Boston. Hollister was the winner of the 2008 Boston Chamber of Commerce’s Pinnacle Award for Entrepreneurship and Enterprise Woman of the Year Award.

“I am honored to have Kip here today to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of her business. She’s one example of the many successful women entrepreneurs in this country who have faced adversity but keep their dreams afloat,” said Kerry.

Babson College’s Trish Costello, another participant at the roundtable, has been internationally recognized for her work in educating and preparing venture capital investment partners through the Kauffman Fellows Program and for providing women entrepreneurs help in accessing capital.

“While the number of women-owned small firms increases, their access to capital lags and Trish has raised awareness of this challenge,” said Kerry. “I’m proud to sit alongside her today.”

Kerry recognized that despite accounting for 30 percent of all small businesses, women-owned firms receive less than 3.5 percent of federal contracts. To boost women entrepreneurship, Congress passed the Women’s Procurement Program in 2000 - which has yet to be enacted by the President. But the SBA has chosen the narrowest possible way to implement the program - labeling just four of 140 industries studied underrepresented. They submitted this rule for consideration in August and if it is implemented, contracting officers will only be able to restrict competition to women-owned businesses in these limited industries.

“I am vehemently opposed to the Bush adminstration moving forward with the unconstitutional women's procurement rule that makes it harder for women to access federal contracts,” said Kerry. “If the Bush administration gets its way, the underlying principles of the Woman’s Procurement Program will be severely undermined and any meaningful change that we could have enacted will be vastly constrained."