It is important that women business owners have their voices heard in Washington, D.C., and here in Arizona. According to the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and
Entrepreneurship, “Women-led small businesses help boost economic growth and create jobs. There are more than 11.3 million women-owned businesses in America — representing 38 percent of all firms and growing at five times the national average. This dramatic growth is encouraging but happening despite institutional barriers facing women entrepreneurs, including a tax code that bypasses industries in which women-owned firms have flourished and a funding gap estimated at $300 billion for female-owned small businesses worldwide.”
In Arizona, we encourage women business owners to join NAWBO and our Public Policy Committee. What are the pressing issues facing women owned businesses in Arizona and nationwide? Below is NAWBO’s 2021-2022 advocacy agenda.
NAWBO’s advocacy agenda focuses on the following five items:
1. Speaking to the Microbusiness, Reinvigorating, and Encouraging the Emerging Entrepreneur
Based on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there were 6.1 million employer firms in the U.S. in 2018 (latest data). Of those firms, 78.4% have fewer than 10 employees. The SBA defines small business as firms with 500 or fewer employees which make up 99.7 percent of all firms in the U.S. NAWBO is advocating for a change in the SBA definition of small business.
2. Accessing Capital
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) and the Economic Injury Disaster (EIDL) Loan and Emergency EIDL grant programs provided access to much-needed capital for business owners while also highlighting critical areas of much-needed improvement for women. The proportion by which women and minority business owners received funding during the pandemic underscored their constant struggle to access capital. NAWBO is asking lawmakers to make fundamental changes to ensure women’s inclusion in traditional avenues and other outlets such as venture capital.
The following bills related to access to capital have passed the House and are now being considered by the Senate Small Business Committee:
- H. R. 1482: To amend the Small Business Act to enhance the Office of Credit Risk Management, to require the Administrator of the Small Business Administration to issue rules relating to environmental obligations of certified development companies, and for other purposes.
- H. R. 1487: To amend the Small Business Act to increase transparency, and for other purposes.
- H. R. 1490: To amend the Small Business Investment Act of 1958 to improve the loan guaranty program, enhance the ability of small manufacturers to access affordable capital, and for other purposes.
- H. R. 1502: To amend the Small Business Act to optimize the operations of the microloan program, lower costs for small business concerns and intermediary participants in the program, and for other purposes.
According to an announcement by the SBA Administrator, the SBA has “re-tooled” the Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program. Fundamental changes announced by the SBA include:
- Increasing the COVID EIDL Cap. The SBA will lift the COVID EIDL cap from $500,000 to $2 million. Loan funds can be used for any normal operating expenses and working capital, including payroll, purchasing equipment and paying debt.
- Implementation of a Deferred Payment Period. The SBA will ensure small-business owners will not have to begin COVID EIDL repayment until two years after loan origination.
- Establishment of a 30-Day Exclusivity Window. To ensure Main Street businesses have additional time to access these funds, the SBA will implement a 30-day exclusivity window of approving and disbursing funds for loans of $500,000 or less.
- Expansion of Eligible Use of Funds. COVID EIDL funds will now be eligible to prepay commercial debt and make payments on federal business debt.
- Simplification of affiliation requirements. To ease the COVID EIDL application process for small businesses, the SBA has established more simplified affiliation requirements to model the Restaurant Revitalization Fund.
SBA believes these enhancements to the COVID EIDL program will allow more businesses greater and more flexible support from the more than $150 billion in available COVID EIDL funds.
3. Breaking the Middle Barrier
Many WBOs struggle to break the barrier between $350,000 in revenue to more than a million dollars in revenue. NAWBO believes our nation must work to advance these women business owners.
Recently, the House Small Business Committee approved $25 billion in funding for small-business programs. The legislation heads to the House Budget Committee for inclusion in the reconciliation package:
- $35 million in funding for veteran federal procurement entrepreneurship training;
- $1 billion in funding for an uplift accelerator program and business development academy at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs) for underrepresented small businesses;
- Provides $1 billion to establish a national network of business incubators;
- $20 million to enhance the SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs;
- $9.5 billion to establish a subprogram within the Small Business Investment Company program to provide patient capital to underserved markets and small manufacturers;
- $600 million to enhance, improve, and expand the SBA’s Community Advantage program; and
- $4.465 billion to fund a direct loan product under the current 7(a) lending program administered by the SBA.
4. Utilizing and Receiving Technology
The COVID-19 crisis underscored the great need for innovative technology and infrastructure for the changing workplace:
- Accessing reliable, affordable broadband;
- Utilizing the digital footprint; and
- Learning to market online.
5. Caring for the Business Owner and Caretaking Flexibilities for the Employee More than ever, our nation understands the need for a sound healthcare system and acknowledges a concerted effort is needed to address healthcare of business owners and their employees:
- Creating affordable healthcare options,
- Understanding the importance of our well-being,
- Prioritizing our nation’s caretakers and
Educating on business succession-planning and retirement. Part of business succession and retirement is Estate Taxes. Recently, NAWBO joined other organizations on a letter to House Ways and Means Committee to continue a stepped-up basis, which prevents family-owned businesses and farms from being hit by the capital gains tax on any appreciated assets and the estate tax on whatever is left when a family member passes away. This is in response to one section of the American Families Plan, which proposed making death a taxable event.
If you are interested in joining NAWBO Phoenix’s Public Policy Committee, reach them through www.nawbo.org/phoenix.
Sindi Major-Martinez, NAWBO Phoenix Public Policy Chair, is an accomplished business and technology executive with more than 30 years of experience working with organizations in the private and public sectors. She has worked for large organizations in various leadership positions and has started two of her own award-winning technology managed services and consulting companies. Major-Martinez received her MBA from the W. P. Carey School of Business Executive Program at Arizona State University.