Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and American Express OPEN, celebrate the U.S. Government’s achievement of awarding five percent of its annual federal contracts to women-owned small businesses for the first time since the goal was set more than twenty years ago. The five percent goal was put in place as part of the Federal Acquisition Streamlining Act of 1994 and led to the creation of the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program in the Equity in Contracting for Women Act of 2000.
WIPP and American Express OPEN are longtime champions of women entrepreneurs in the federal contracting space. Together they created the Give Me 5 program in 2008 to give women-owned small businesses access to knowledge and resources to help win federal contracts. At the time, just 3.4% of federal contracts were awarded to women-owned small businesses—roughly $13 billion of the approximately $400 billion awarded annually.
In April 2013, WIPP, American Express OPEN and the Small Business Administration (SBA) launched ChallengeHER, a national initiative to boost government contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses. ChallengeHER delivers free workshops, mentoring and direct access to government buyers. Now entering its fourth year, ChallengeHER has educated more than 5,400 women entrepreneurs at 39 workshops across the country and facilitated more than 1,900 meetings between women small business owners and government officials.
"Without the strong commitment from organizations like WIPP and the SBA, reaching this important milestone would not have been possible," said Susan Sobbott, President of Global Commercial Payments for American Express. "We call on all women entrepreneurs to keep this momentum going and encourage them to scale their businesses by taking their products and services to government agencies."
"This is a truly remarkable moment for women business owners and government agencies, but there is still much work to be done," said Kristie Arslan, Executive Director at WIPP. "We will continue to be a tireless champion of the program and solicit support to ensure that women-owned businesses have access to the tools they need to successfully compete in the federal marketplace."
"As a woman business owner for 13 years, I could not be more pleased that the five percent women federal contracting goal was met for the first time," said Lourdes Martin-Rosa, President of Government Business Solutions, LLC and American Express OPEN Advisor for Government Contracting. "Small business contracting programs like ChallengeHER have opened the door for thousands of women-owned small businesses across the country. This is an exciting moment in history for women-owned small businesses paving the way for future growth and expansion."
The contracting landscape for women-owned businesses has improved significantly as a result of strong public and private support and bipartisan efforts. In early 2013, due to the efforts of WIPP and their coalition partners, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which removed caps on eligible federal contract awards under the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract program. Before the law was put into place, awards to women-owned small business were capped at $4 million and $6.5 million under the program. WIPP had further success in improving the WOSB Federal Contract Program in 2014 with the passage of a new law that provided federal agencies with statutory authority to award sole-source contracts to women-owned small businesses. The WOSB program was the only major small business contracting program without this authority at the time – putting women entrepreneurs at a distinct disadvantage.
WIPP, American Express OPEN and the SBA will host a reception in Washington D.C. in April to recognize the leaders and organizations that played a role in meeting the five percent federal contracting goal for women-owned small businesses.
About Women Impacting Public Policy
WIPP is a national non-partisan public policy organization, advocating on behalf of nearly 1 million women-owned businesses representing 68 business organizations. For more information, please visit www.wipp.org.
About American Express OPEN
American Express OPEN is a leading payment card issuer for small businesses in the United States and supports business owners and entrepreneurs with products and services to help them run and grow their businesses. This includes business charge and credit cards that deliver purchasing power, flexibility, rewards, savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners and online tools and services designed to help improve profitability. Learn more at www.OPEN.com and connect with us at openforum.com and twitter.com/openforum.
About American Express
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com and connect with us on facebook.com/americanexpress, foursquare.com/americanexpress, linkedin.com/company/american-express, twitter.com/americanexpress, and youtube.com/americanexpress.
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