news 99 percent of women owned businesses believe government should provide more support

99 percent of women-owned businesses believe government should provide more support

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The federal government has enacted several programs to try to level the playing field for female small business owners – but according to the women entrepreneurs, they aren’t effective.

A new survey released by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices, shows that 99 percent of women-owned small businesses believe the federal government could do more to support them. The survey shows that 89 percent said the playing field for female small businesses is not level compared to male-owned businesses.

The survey data also finds that current programs and services offered to women-owned businesses are not meeting their needs, with 72 percent of respondents giving the federal government a “C” or below grade for effectiveness.

“The playing field for female entrepreneurs has never been level,” said Shaniece Bennett, founder of Accutrak Consulting and Accounting Services and a member of the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices community. “As we celebrate Women’s History Month, there’s no better time to shine a light on the unique challenges faced by female small business owners and the many ways we can continue to grow our businesses. A good place to start is by ensuring the programs offered by the federal government are accessible and working.”

The Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contract program was created with a stated purpose to help level the playing field for female small business owners. However, the federal government’s goal to award at least five percent of all federal contracting dollars to women-owned small businesses each year has only been met twice since it was authorized in 1994.

“There are a lot of good programs out there, but we need to ensure female small business owners have the resources, time and awareness to take advantage of them,” said Janetta King, a vice president at Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices. “That’s why we’re calling on Congress to modernize the Small Business Administration for the first time since 2000.”

There are also complex barriers to entry to get certified. According to participants, a key challenge with the certification program is that the application process is difficult to navigate, and small businesses aren’t aware of many of its benefits.

Of the 36 percent of women who said they were certified, more than half (58 percent) said the application process was difficult and 42 percent said the time spent applying was not worth the benefits.

Of the 64 percent who are not certified, the top reasons they cited included: Not familiar with the certification or its benefits (25 percent); not convinced the benefits of certification are worth it (24 percent); and the process is too time consuming (18 percent).

When asked how the federal government could better support female entrepreneurs, the top response was to improve the marketing of resources and programs for women-owned small businesses. Female small business owners also said they want to see better support services for women seeking to do business with the federal government, as well as better access to capital.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Voices is calling on Congress to reauthorize the Small Business Administration for the first time in 23 years. Modernization would improve marketing and communication tools with small businesses and update technology to help streamline application processes.

The survey data is based on responses from 898 women-owned small businesses and participants of Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses. It was conducted from Feb. 22-27, 2023, and included small business owners from 47 states and Puerto Rico.

Crystal Graham

Crystal Graham

Crystal Abbe Graham is the regional editor of Augusta Free Press. A 1999 graduate of Virginia Tech, she has worked as a reporter and editor for several Virginia publications, written a book, and garnered more than a dozen Virginia Press Association awards for writing and graphic design. She was the co-host of "Viewpoints," a weekly TV news show, and co-host of Virginia Tonight, a nightly TV news show. Her work on "Virginia Tonight" earned her a national Telly award for excellence in television.

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