WASHINGTON -- Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), Ranking Member of the Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, today called on the Bush administration and the Small Business Administration (SBA) to do more for women-owned businesses.

“Women business owners continue to be short-changed by the administration,” Kerry said. “The number of women-owned businesses is growing at more than twice the rate of all firms, but women entrepreneurs aren’t getting their fair share of the capital, counseling or contracts. There's no place for the ol’ boys club in our government. We need to ensure that, with a smart business plan and a lot of hard work, every American entrepreneur can achieve success.”

Capital: The SBA boasts that is has increased the number of loans going to women-owned business. What they fail to mention is that the share of loans, both in number and dollar amount, going to women-owned businesses has actually decreased since 1998. Women business owners also receive just over 2 percent of venture capital from the Small Business Investment Companies (SBIC) program. In addition, the administration has, for two years in a row, attempted to eliminate the Microloan program, 45 percent of which goes to women.

Counseling: The administration has said it will not support the most experienced, effective, and efficient women’s business centers. This year the administration is preparing to eliminate 11 centers and has proposed cutting an additional 50 percent in 2006. Last year, women’s business centers helped 106,000 entrepreneurs and small-business owners. A study recently released by the National Women's Business Council shows that over the past 2 years, while funding for the women's business center program has remained essentially flat, the number of clients served increased by 91 percent and the number of new businesses started went up 376 percent. The study also found that the businesses counseled by women's business centers had an economic impact of $500 million in gross receipts, $51.4 million in profit, and created 12,719 new jobs.

Contracting: Of the $300 billion in contracts awarded by the federal government, women-owned businesses are supposed to receive 5 percent. However, the administration has never awarded more than 3 percent to them. This means women-owned businesses, which represent 30 percent of all businesses, have lost out on almost $6 billion each year. Despite these dismal numbers, the administration has refused to implement a women’s contracting program that went into law in December of 2000 to help women-owned business get access to federal contracts.

The Center for Women’s Business Research estimates that as of 2004, there are an estimated 6.7 million privately-held, majority (51 percent or more) women-owned firms. They account for 30 percent of all privately-held firms in the country, generate $1.19 trillion in sales, and employ 9.8 million people nationwide. Between 1997 and 2004, the growth in the number of these majority women-owned firms is nearly two and a half times the rate for all U.S. privately-held firms (23 percent vs. 9 percent). For more information visit: http://www.nfwbo.org