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 2015 Update … Fall Edition

A substantial part of Women Impacting Public Policy’s (WIPP) Federal Procurement Programming lies undoubtedly with ChallengeHER. ChallengeHER is an educational program, which provides women business owners with the guidance to better compete for federal contracts under the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contract Program.

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In order to provide as much impact as possible and to get women business owners together with federal buyers, ChallengeHER events are being held in several cities and states throughout 2015. As the year is progressing toward the fall season, several events have already been held (e.g. Washington D.C., New York, Dallas, Atlanta, New Hampshire), but many more are still scheduled until the end of the year. And what can participants expect?

ChallengeHER provides women around the United States with the most important, standardized knowledge and guidance in the federal marketplace and an opportunity to:

  • Learn about the WOSB set aside program and how to market their business using this set aside.
  • Learn from experiences and best practices of successful WOSBs working as federal contractors.
  • Find out from federal buyers how to do business with their agency in Federal Buyer’s Panel.
  • Participate in one-on-one matchmaking sessions with federal buyers at most events.
  • Learn about the new Sole Source Authority rule! More information on SBA’s announcement integrating a sole source component into the WOSB procurement program starting October 14, 2015, can be found here.
  • Network with peer mentors and other WOSB and Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business (EDWOSB) firms.

Some of the participants’ feedback:

BlogPost“I am glad I was able to attend ChallengeHER. The speakers were great and very informative.” – Attendee from New Hampshire event

“ChallengeHER provided me with pathway to applying for federal contracts and becoming a successful women business owner.” – Attendee from Atlanta event

“I truly appreciate the information shared. It provoked me to think differently about how I was running mBlogPosty business. I was so inspired I even recorded the speech.” – Attendee from Atlanta event

“As well as strong individual speakers, it was particularly helpful to have “panels” that provided different perspectives at once.” – Attendee from NYC event

Registration for upcoming events is available for:

More events to come will be held in Central New Jersey, Baltimore, Kansas City, and Orlando in Florida throughout November and early December 2015.

ChallengeHER aims not only to provide one time learning experience but also to build a standing long-term knowledge and support base for its participants. Therefore additional resources are available for attendees both before and after the event:

  1. To prepare and get ready for discussions and topics covered during the event by listening the following courses:
  2. To follow up on gained knowledge and sort out where to go from there, by following 10 Quick Steps for guidance to successful federal contracting.

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.

For more information on upcoming events and news visit our website and connect with us online on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn.

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 lstuart@wipp.org.

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