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The National Women's Business Council, a bi-partisan Federal government advisory panel, was created by Congress in 1988 [Public Law 100-533]. The Council serves as an independent source of advice and counsel to the President, the Congress, and the Interagency Committee on Women's Business Enterprise, its public sector counterpart on economic issues of importance to women business owners.
The members of the National Women's Business Council are prominent women business owners and leaders of national women's business organizations. The mission of the Council is to promote bold initiatives, policies and programs designed to support women's business enterprises at all stages of development both in the public and private sector marketplaces.
The Council and the Interagency Committee have effectively established a public/private sector partnership to promote an economic environment conducive to business growth and development for women-owned businesses and have focused on four key areas of program and policy development:
- Expanding public and private market opportunities for women-owned business;
- Conducting and promoting research and data collection to create a comprehensive profile of the women's business sector and public awareness of this profile;
- Strengthening the training, technical assistance, mentoring and networking infrastructure that serves the women's business sector; and
- Expanding and ensuring access to capital and credit resources for women business owners.
To the President and Members of Congress:
My colleagues and I are pleased to transmit the 1998 Annual Report of the National Women's Business Council. This report includes important findings from research conducted by the Council on access to Federal and commercial contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses.
As you know, the Council was reauthorized last year and most of the appointees to the Council, including myself, are serving for the first time. We are honored to be given this opportunity to advocate for the interests of the most dynamic and fastest growing segment of our nation's economy. We have much to celebrate about the economic accomplishments of women-owned business, yet we recognize that there is much work to be done to address the capital and business development needs of the nation's 8 million women business owners.
Women mean big business. With the assistance of the Congress, the President and other elected, appointed and corporate-sector leaders, we must build bridges between women entrepreneurs and the public and private sources of capital and contracts. Now is time to begin making the investment in the tools that will assist women to sustain and grow their enterprises.
In addition to the findings of the Council's research, this report describes the activities of the Council from the date we were sworn in by the Vice President in June 1998. We have also included a digest of all the Council's recommendations presented since its inception in 1988. We are pleased to note that many of these recommendations have been adopted through legislative and administrative action. We look forward to working with Congress and the Administration to implement the remaining recommendations as well as the newest offerings pertaining to increasing competitive contracting opportunities for women-owned businesses.