New OPEN Report Says Women-Owned Businesses Growing at Highest Pace Since the Recession

Earlier today, American Express OPEN released the Sixth Annual State of Women-Owned Businesses Report and the results are proof of the women-owned business community’s ability to power through adversity.  Some highlights of the report, which is based on historical and current U.S. Census Bureau data and Gross Domestic Product data, are:

  • Between 2007 and 2016, the number of women-owned firms rose by 42% with women starting 1,072 (net) new businesses per day.
  • Women-owned firms now number 11.3 million, employ nearly 9 million people and are generating more than $1.6 trillion in revenue.
  • Over the past nine years, the number of women-owned firms has grown at a rate five times faster than the national average, reaching a post-recession high
  • Number of Firms Owned by Women of Color More Than Doubled Over Past Nine Years


“We are pleased to see the continued rise of the vital role that women-owned businesses play in our country’s post-recession recovery,” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express Global Commercial Payments. “We are inspired by these women who are continuing to pursue their entrepreneurial passions, and are strengthening our communities and economy even further.”

“Every day, 1,000+ women choose the path of entrepreneurship.  This report captures the optimism of our members who contribute mightily to the economy by starting and building their businesses—especially women of color,” said Ann Sullivan, Chief Advocate for Women Impacting Public Policy.


Industry trends

As we emerge from the recession, women are turning to traditional industries such as lifestyle and services companies. Between 2007 and 2016, the following four industries had the biggest increase in women-owned firms:

  • other services (e.g. home care to hair and nail salons and pet care businesses), up 98%;
  • administrative, support and waste management services (including janitorial and landscaping businesses as well as office administrative support and travel agencies), up 64%;
  • accommodation and food services, up 62%;
  • and construction, up 56%.


View the full 2016 State of Women-Owned Business Report, here.

The report was prepared for American Express OPEN by Womenable, a research, program and policy development consultancy, who is also a valued WIPP Coalition Partner.

Federal Government Meets 5% Federal Contracting Goal for Women-Owned Small Businesses for the First Time in Twenty Years

Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) is thrilled to 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 our partner American Express OPEN are longtime champions of women entrepreneurs in the federal contracting space, creating 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.

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.

A hearty congratulations and thanks to the folks at SBA, American Express OPEN, the WIPP team, and all of the organizations and women business owners that have helped improve and increase access to the federal marketplace for women-owned small businesses.  Job well done!

ChallengeHER Recognized in Budget Proposal

CH-LogoBudgets are usually just about the numbers, but, every so often, they take respite from tables, spreadsheets, and account balances to acknowledge successful partnerships. Anyone taking a look at the President’s budget, released on February 9, found out who is working on behalf of women business owners when the Small Business Administration (SBA) highlighted the success of WIPP’s ChallengeHER initiative at bringing women-owned businesses into the federal marketplace. Having SBA acknowledge WIPP’s efforts demonstrates just how strong WIPP advocates have been.

Securing a contract with the federal government can double the revenue for a women-owned business and the ChallengeHER program has been providing education to women business owners on how to do just that. In 2013, WIPP partnered with American Express OPEN and SBA to offer events, workshops with access to an online curriculum, and mentoring opportunities that provide women entrepreneurs with knowledge and connections to help them successfully compete for federal contracts.

This year, WIPP is planning 18 ChallengeHER events across the country. For more information and to find the ChallengeHER event closest to you, please visit WIPP’s ChallengeHER site.

ChallengeHER 2015 Tour Update

CH-LogoWomen Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) is happy to provide women business owners with the guidance to better compete for Federal Contracts under the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program. In order to educate and get women business owners together with federal buyers, ChallengeHER programs are being held in several cities and states throughout 2015. There have already been 3 events held – in Washington D.C., New York City, and Dallas and many more in the upcoming months. I’d like to share some highlights with you, as we have had many great hosts and speakers with outstanding presentations.

For those of you, who are not familiar with the program, here is some basic information:

ChallengeHER, an initiative from the U. S. Small Business Administration (SBA), WIPP, and American Express OPEN (OPEN), is designed to strengthen and promote the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program. ChallengeHER offers women business owners important information to established and new businesses on working with the federal government. Further, these events enable more women business owners to take advantage of contracting opportunities so they can boost their businesses and help propel the success of the WOSB Procurement Program.

The agenda of the ChallengeHER events is structured to provide women around all the United States the most important, standardized knowledge and guidance in federal marketplace. In ChallengeHER, WOSB federal contractors have a unique opportunity to:

  • Learn about the WOSB set aside program and how to market their business using this set aside.
  • Learn from experiences of successful WOSBs working as federal contractors.
  • Learn from federal buyers how to do business with their agency in Contracting Officers Panel.
  • Network with peer mentors and other WOSB and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) firms.

In addition, each event is filled with different speakers and moderators with substantial insights and specific topics.

Washington D.C. hosted by SBA

The first event this year was held in Washington, D.C. on May 11 at the SBA Headquarters. We kicked off with WOSB Strategic Research and Marketing presented by Sean Crean from the SBA. A panel of successful women entrepreneurs shared their experiences and a panel of contracting officers provided insight on planning for federal contracting, underlining the core mission of ChallengeHER – to share and educate women in federal procurement business.

New York City filled with extraordinary speakers

Amex_ChallengeHer_2015-74After Washington, we moved to New York City where we had the great pleasure to listen to an armchair discussion between The Honorable Maria Contreras-Sweet, Administrator, U. S. Small Business Administration and Denise Pickett, President, American Express OPEN, on Fueling the Small Business Economy and Growing Women-Owned Small Business. The discussion was very informative and we learned many new facts regarding the WOSB program and about other SBA initiatives including guarantees for loans to small business owners and thus eliminating some of the risk to the lending partners under Guaranteed Loan Programs (Debt Financing).

Another highlight in NYC was one-to-one matchmaking sessions between Federal Buyers and Contractors, where on top of the panel discussions, women entrepreneurs had a unique opportunity to directly discuss their business proposals with federal contracting officers.

Dallas Questions & Answers Storm

Just a week later, we headed to stormy Dallas for a special ChallengeHER with the U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Despite the severe weather forecasts the event day was bright and sunny and well attended! The Dallas audience was very interactive and we had more than 4 hours of sessions filled with questions and active discussions with the speakers and panelists.

We have had a great start to this year’s ChallengeHER “tour” and more summer events are announced for July in Atlanta and for August in Cincinnati and New Hampshire! We can’t wait to meet new women entrepreneurs and help them get new insights for enhancing their businesses.

Stay tuned for upcoming events and visit our website for more information and announcements.

It’s Here! WIPP’s National Directory of Women Federal Contractors

WOSB Directory

WIPP is excited to announce the launch of its National Directory of Women-Owned Small Businesses (WOSB) in the federal contracting arena. This directory is a great resource, which allows you to find qualified women contractors across the US. In order to be listed, you must first be a WIPP member and complete the WIPP Federal Contracting Certificate Program, a step-by-step training program for women business owners ready to become more involved in federal contracting or are already an experienced contractor with past performance. If you are looking to fill contract opportunities or are seeking a teaming partner, WIPP’s National WOSB Directory can help you find the highly qualified WOSB contractors with credible past performance to fit all of your contracting needs.

The goal of this directory is to build and promote a list of qualified WOMEN contractors so that at least 5% of federal contracts will be going to women-owned businesses. There are currently over 110 women-owned small businesses in the federal contracting arena listed in the WIPP National Directory. Help us reach our goal and complete the Certificate Program or check out the list today.

Also don’t forget to check out WIPP’s other federal contracting education resources:

For more information about the WIPP Federal Contracting Certificate Program or WIPP’s National WOSB Directory please contact Lin Stuart, WIPP’s Procurement Manager at

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