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Fiscal Year 2005 continued the active and inclusive approach set over the past three years by the National Women’s Business Council. This year saw the publication of numerous research reports, Issues in Brief, and Fact Sheets; the hosting of several well-attended issue discussion events; broad communication with the women’s business and policy communities through the Council’s Web site and the issuance of press releases and an electronic newsletter; and activism in the public policy arena. This Annual Report summarizes these many activities. This Executive Summary briefly summarizes our activities, as well as the policy recommendations that resulted from our research, communications and outreach activities.
In addition to holding two Council meetings and several conference calls, the National Women’s Business Council hosted a Web cast and wrote and produced a video chronicling some of the “founding mothers” of the women’s business movement.
Members of the Council traveled the country to speak on behalf of the Council. Council staff attended and participated in hundreds of intergovernmental and outreach meetings. The Council was called on by the International Council on Small Business to provide input for the International Best Practices paper competition.
Communications outreach activities continued to expand at the Council, to better inform the women’s business community of important issues and events and to engage women business owners in policy issue discussions. Our activities included: an expansion of the Resource Card for women business owners, the redesign and launch of a new logo for the Council’s publications and Web site, the continued expansion of the Council’s database of contacts, the distribution of news announcements, the continued hosting of www.womenbiz.gov and the NWBC Web site publication of several archived documents.
The NWBC produced several successful comment letters which resulted in policy adjustment: consideration of the implications to the women’s business community by redefining size standards, the re-insertion of the gender-based data collection by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and the consideration of SBA’s 7(a) and 7(b) loans.
It has been a successful year, though many challenges remain. Based on research conducted during the year, on numerous discussions with the women’s business community at conferences, meetings and roundtables, and on comment letters filed during the course of the year by the Council, the National Women’s Business Council makes the following recommendations to the President, the U.S. Congress, and the U. S. Small Business Administration:
Access to Capital- The Council has expressed concern with certain proposed changes to the SBA’s 7(m) microloan program, and the Council would like to see federal programs such as SBA’s SAIC program increase their outreach to women business owners and women’s business organizations.
Access to Federal and International Procurement Markets- The Council encourages the Administration to continue its efforts on behalf of subcontractors on the issue of contract bundling to ensure that procurement opportunities remain open to all small businesses, including women-owned businesses. We would further recommend an increase in access to international markets, and size standards should be tiered to even the competitive playing field.
Access to Training/Technical Assistance: Women’s Business Centers- In letters to the SBA and to the leadership of the Senate and House Small Business Committees, the Council reiterated its position in favor of ongoing financial support of the program.
Fact-Based Policy Making- Policy making can only be strengthened when it is based upon sound research and other factual information. The Council recommends that all relevant programs, such as the Women’s Business Center program, should provide such information on their outcomes.
Ongoing Advocacy- While gains to the women’s business community have been notable during the last several years, the Council recommends constant vigilance and ongoing advocacy to maintain that progress. The Council urges the women’s business community to remain active and engaged in public policy discussions, always mindful of efforts to undermine the progress in support of women’s enterprise developments.
We invite public comment on our Annual Report, and on the research and other programmatic activities of the Council.