The SBA’s Growth Accelerator Fund Competition is open for applications and ready to award successful incubators and growth accelerators with cash prizes. This competition, which awards the most innovative and promising small business accelerators and incubators, was announced by the Small Business Administration this morning. These prizes will give the winning organizations additional capital and ultimately assist promising start-ups and entrepreneurs.
May 2016 WIPP National Partner of the Month
JeFreda Brown, CEO, Goshen Business Group, LLC
WIPP sat down with JeFreda to hear a little bit more about her business and relationship with us:
Tell us a little about your company and its mission.
Goshen Business Group, LLC is a full service consulting firm. We provide financial and business compliance consulting services. Our focuses are compliance, risk management, and fraud. We service small to large sized organizations in the US and are looking to expand internationally. We provide our services through consulting and professional development training. We also can develop training courses.
Our mission is to educate organizations on their financial responsibilities. This includes helping them learn and understand federal, state, local, and industry regulations and laws to develop and maintain compliant financial practices.
Have you always been an entrepreneur? If not, what inspired you to take the leap?
Actually, when I was 7 I used to pray and tell God I wanted to be a business owner one day so I could be rich and help people. I left my job with the Federal Government in January 2011 to go full time into my business. I felt like I wasn’t using my full potential and that I needed to do more to help others. I have so much knowledge that can be very valuable to those who need it. My grandfather worked for the federal Government, but he also had his own construction business. He was my biggest inspiration growing up. Seeing him as an entrepreneur and how he helped so many people gave me the courage to take the leap.
What is your biggest lesson learned working with the Federal Government?
I would say the biggest lesson I learned while working with the Federal Government was to be very detailed. I was a Senior Auditor with Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA). We were trained to be very thorough and detailed. That has helped me tremendously in my business. I also learned how very important risk assessments and fraud detection are. I have taken those lessons and now teach them to my clients.
Do you have a success story that you are particularly proud of? Tell us about it!
I have several, but I can roll them up into one. I am always getting feedback from my clients letting me know how much they appreciate my help. They say, “we don’t know these things, and we need someone like you to help us and keep us out of trouble”. One client told me that she doesn’t think enough people recognize how much knowledge I have and how much I can help their companies. I have had so many clients who have received bad advice from others, but they found me, and I was able to fix things that were done incorrectly by others.
Tell us about your experience as a WIPP member? What resources/value has WIPP provided that has been helpful to you and your company?
I have truly enjoyed being a WIPP member the last 5 years. It has been a great learning experience for me. WIPP provides so many valuable resources for women owned businesses and professionals. The monthly webinars are awesome. I was even asked to do a webinar training a couple of years ago on DCAA Audits, and it’s now part of the contracting certification program. Not only am I learning what I need for my business, but I’m also connecting with and interacting with other amazing women. I’m building great business relationships with these women. WIPP has also shown me that they value me and trust me by selecting me to be a part of the Procurement Committee, Leadership Advisory Council, and now Treasurer on both the WIPP Board of Directors and Education Foundation Board of Directors. You have to be involved to get value out of WIPP. You have to actively participate in the things WIPP offers. No other organization for women offers what WIPP offers, in my opinion. WIPP has a reach across the globe, and it’s growing more and more. It will soon be up there in the ranks like huge international nonprofits such as UNICEF.
Dear WIPP Members and Friends,
Women business owners are 10 million strong. When we engage in the political process with a positive message there is no stopping us!
WE Decide 2016 is mobilizing thousands of women in business to raise their voice and share their message this election season. It is a wonderful opportunity to learn and to share our views on issues important to us with the candidates and the media.
So please, sign up today and encourage your friends and employees to join you. To immediately get involved you can like us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and sign up for WE Decide 2016 online. Below are the links to make an immediate impact –and it will only take 5 minutes of your time!
We also encourage you to spread the word in your networks, click here to view the most recent weekly partner and supporter newsletter. This newsletter provides links to logos, pictures for social media, sample social media, the topic for the weekly #WEDecideChat on Twitter, content for your website, and the most recent poll or survey. If you would like to sign your organization up as a supporter, please click here or email Lynn Bunim at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thank you again for your support – we couldn’t do all we do without you!
WIPP President Emeritus
By: Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations
If you are an entrepreneur seeking capital, the path to venture funding could be getting a little easier. Earlier this month, the House Financial Services Committee took action on two bills that make venture investments more attainable for entrepreneurs – The Helping Angels Lead Our Startups (HALOS) Act and the Main Street Growth Act. As women entrepreneurs only receive 7% of venture dollars, improving access to venture capital is a top priority in the women’s business community.
Due to ambiguities in the law, pitch events or demo days that are sponsored by angel investors may or may not be legal. Yet, these events are a great opportunity for entrepreneurs to get themselves – and their products – in front of a room full of potential investors. The HALOS Act makes this easier by clarifying this ambiguity. Currently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) prohibits “general advertising” and “general solicitation,” but the HALOS act would clarify that these events are permitted for groups of angel investors and not subject to the prohibition on general solicitations. The bill’s sponsor, House Small Business Committee Chair Steve Chabot (R-OH), remarked, “clarifying the law to give entrepreneurs and investors more certainty and opportunity is a step in the right direction.”
To further incentivize investment, The Main Street Growth Act (H.R. 4638) will create securities exchanges specifically for venture capital investments. Existing stock exchanges could create a new tier to specialize in venture capital investments or entirely new exchanges could be established. These securities exchanges will bring together buyers and sellers of venture capital and create a more liquid market, which will incentivize investors to support startups.
While no single policy change or piece of legislation will break down the barriers that prevent women entrepreneurs from accessing capital, these incremental improvements show that Congress is committed to leveling the playing field for women entrepreneurs. WIPP’s access to capital platform, Breaking the Bank, continues to gain traction with legislators and WIPP is dedicated to growing women entrepreneurs’ share of venture capital funding.
by Ann Sullivan, WIPP Government Relations
When you’ve been working on a program for 15 years, it’s almost anti-climatic when you realize you won and it’s over. I suppose lawyers feel this way when they win a big case, or business owners when they close a major contract.
For me, the SBA announcement integrating a sole source component into the WOSB procurement program on October 14, 2015 marks the end of a long campaign by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP). First, we fought for eleven years to establish a program that gives a government buying preference to women-owned companies whose industries have been underrepresented. Not an easy fight – we had plenty of Congressional and White House opponents—it wasn’t until the Obama Administration came into power that the program was established. At the time, SBA Administrator Karen Mills made it her number one priority, which we will always be thankful for. We had strong Congressional proponents – Senators Cantwell and Shaheen and Representatives Speier and Graves.
Then, we had to make the program work. That required two major changes to the program in 2013 and 2014. The first change required lifting the award caps the law imposed on the program. The WOSB procurement program limited contract awards through the program to $4 million ($6.5 million for manufacturing). In 2013, Congress helped us get rid of those caps. The last big piece was the sole source piece—allowing contracting officers to award sole source contracts to women-owned companies through the program. This major change gives the program parity with other small business programs and again, required Congressional action. Effective October 14, agencies will be able to use this mechanism to award contracts to women whose companies offer innovative products and services.
As with all government programs, the rules are a little complicated and the ability to self-certify as a woman owned business will eventually have to change, due to Congressional direction in 2014. But for now, self-certification remains the law and women should be actively pursuing contracts through the WOSB procurement program whether or not they are self-certified or certified by a third party.
It is important to note that not all industries (NAICS codes) qualify for the program. You can find a list at http://www.SBA.gov/WOSB. We have developed a one pager that go through the rules of the sole source portion of the program and our GiveMe5 program has comprehensive information on the WOSB program. In addition, our ChallengeHER events are all over the country so that women can find out more about the program. The information can all be found at www.wipp.org.
The WOSB procurement program is in good hands. All the major pieces to make it successful are in place. When we started this effort in 2002, women received 2.7% of government contracts. Since the program has been in place, more than $500 million has been set-aside for women- owned companies. In fact, in 2014 the government awarded 4.7% of its contracts to WOSBs –a 75% increase since 2002. Now women business owners need to know how to use it with the help of SBA, the federal contracting community and organizations, such as WIPP.
Fifteen years seems like a long time, but when you are fighting for something—somehow it doesn’t seem that long. WIPP members and coalition partners were with us every step of the way. For this, I am exceedingly grateful.
WIPP National Partner of the Month: Tracy Balazs, President and CEO, Federal Staffing Resources, LLC dba FSR
We sat down with Tracy to hear more about her business and her relationship with WIPP:
Tell us a little about your company and its mission.
FSR was started with the desire to help our wounded warriors heal and to provide healthcare personnel with the clinical expertise to our military treatment facilities and VA hospitals around the country.
Have you always been an entrepreneur? If not, what, or who, inspired you to take this leap?
I was a Registered Nurse with 25 years of ICU and Trauma nursing experience. I had the opportunity to work at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as a government contractor. This exposure provided me the ability to care for individuals who had sacrificed for our freedoms, hear their stories and meet their families. I was encouraged to start a business that could provide more than just my expertise at the bedside and also be an employer of best in class healthcare professionals that had the same passion as I did.
How has your background in Healthcare helped develop and grow your company?
As a RN, I understood the environment that I was placing our professionals in. I could speak the same language, however, learning the business of government contracting was a challenge as my background was in patient care. I was working nights as a RN at Walter Reed and during the day, I was focused getting business, writing proposals and learning about government contracting.
Do you have a contracting success story that you are proud of?
There is not one contract that I am more proud of than the others, however, none came without sacrifices and hard work. Once you receive a Government contract, your goal is to exceed your customer’s expectations and gain outstanding performance ratings. Having gotten my 8(a) certification within the same year as I started FSR (through a waiver), has helped me a great deal, although it took 18 months of hard work and complete dedication before I got my 1st Government contract.
Tell us about your experience as a WIPP Member? What resources/value has WIPP provided that has been helpful to you and your company?
WIPP has provided me with the education on policy and what is going on in government contracting in a concise fashion. There is a lot of material to read and learn about, however I can go to a single website and find out what is going on. I was so excited that WIPP was so instrumental in getting sole source opportunities and specific set asides for WOSB!
By Jake Clabaugh, WIPP Government Relations
The U.S. Census Bureau Survey of Business Owners (SBO) showed impressive expansion for women-owned businesses. The survey’s latest data, released in August, showed nearly 10 million women-owned firms in the United States. This represents a 27% improvement from the survey’s last results in 2007. In the long term, the number of women-owned companies has increased over 50% since the survey showed 6.5 million firms in 2002.
This growth in women-owned firms is an encouraging economic indicator. Just as important, this progress occurred during the largest recession since the Great Depression. It stands as a testament to the resilience and entrepreneurial spirit of our country’s female business owners.
The SBO is an important tool for assessing the state and growth of businesses, particularly women-owned. The Census Bureau describes this survey as providing “the only source of detailed and comprehensive data on the status, nature, and scope of women-, minority-, and veteran-owned businesses.” While only the preliminary findings have been released, it provides an important preview of the more comprehensive data that will be made available later this year. The complete dataset will include more specified demographic breakdowns of firm ownership characteristics, including women-, minority- and veteran-owned businesses as well as revenues, size, industry-classification data, and geographic information.
It is imperative to use the most complete, comprehensive, and timely data to structure reasoned, directed policy initiatives and make informed decisions, thus, we are looking forward to having the complete survey data later this year. It will be an invaluable tool for guiding our policy direction moving forward, educating government entities and providing useful comparisons for individual firms. We whole-heartedly expect the full dataset to reveal many more successes.
By Annie Wilson, Intern
On Tuesday, August 4th the Small Business Administration (SBA) announced the launch of the 2016 InnovateHER: Innovating for Women Business Challenge and Summit. In partnership with Microsoft, the 2016 InnovateHER includes the second round of the women’s business competition to feature new, innovative products and services that help to change and empower the lives of women and families. Last year, the SBA engaged over 100 organizations and reached 1000+ entrepreneurs around the country and this year they have expanded their challenge to include a women’s summit.
It is the SBA’s hope that through this summit they can unveil products or services that have a measurable impact on women and their families, fulfill a marketplace need and have potential for commercialization. The SBA recognizes that while women control 80% of the purchasing power in this country they only make up less than 5% of venture capitalists. The InnovateHER Challenge is an effort to bridge that economic standard for women and elevate commercial success for women entrepreneurs and products for women.
The InnovateHER event will kick off in the fall of 2015 in its initial round starting with competitions hosted by universities, accelerators, clusters, scale-up communities, resource partners and other organizations. The SBA is encouraging organizations all across the country to participate in this challenge to provide accessibility to an innovative space for women. A way in which organizations can help the InnovateHER challenge and women entrepreneurs within their community is to host a local business competition and submit the winner to the SBA no later than December 3rd, 2015 for the semi final rounds. The SBA will then select up to 10 semifinalists from their community nominations that will be sent to the final pitch competition. The 2016 InnovateHER and final pitch competition will be held March 16-17th, 2016 in Washington D.C. At the final competition, the remaining contestants will do one final marketing pitch and compete to be one of the top three winners to receive up to $70,000 in prize money.
If you’d like to learn more about the challenge rules or how to become a host organization, please click here.
If you’d like to learn more about the challenge itself, please click here.
Anjali “Ann” Ramakumaran
Founder and CEO of Ampcus Inc
Website Address- www.ampcus.com
Company was founded – 2004
WIPP sat down with Ann to hear a little bit more about her business and relationship with WIPP:
Tell us a little about your company and its mission.
- Ampcus is a Business and a Technology consulting and a staff augmentation company headquartered in Chantilly VA 25 miles West of Washington DC. For a decade we have been supporting various fortune 1000 corporations and federal agencies on various mission critical projects of theirs.
- Our mission is todevelop and deliver innovative and effective workforce solutions that make a difference in the life of our customers and employees.
Ampcus is one of the very few women and minority owned company who has all the process certifications required in this field. Ampcus is an ISO 9001:2008; ISO 27001:2005; ISO 20000:2005; and SEI CMMi Level 3 certified Company. Ampcus has been growing at a rate of 40% and maintain high employee retention of over 94%.
Have you always been an entrepreneur? If not, what, or who, inspired you to take this leap? I think Entrepreneurship is imbedded in me. I did work with a small women owned business and as an employee I would work as though it was my own company. I was also recognized by my employer for that.
How are you engaged in your community (or state or national scene) in philanthropic or political causes?
- Contributions to American Cancer Society
- Contributions made for pediatric cancer research
- Providing Scholarship to Underprivileged student through USPAACC Education foundation for college education
- Supporting various non profit organizations like WBENC, WPEO, USPAACC , CRMSDC( Co-chairs and Presenting Sponsors) and sponsoring various events of theirs to promote other Women owned business , small business and minority owned business.
- Advisory Board Member- MBE Advisor MBN USA
- Brain trust and Leadership Committee Member- USPAACC
What value/resources has WIPP brought you (training or education, member or political connections/access, awareness of policies that affect your business and its growth, etc.) that have been helpful to you? WIPP has helped us a lot as we get access to lot of training material, get access to political members, webinars have always helped us.
Ann is the Founder and CEO of Ampcus Inc, a technology savvy entrepreneur with more than 10 years of contribution towards the design and development of software services and delivery of Information Technology services. Under her leadership she has grown Ampcus Inc into a fast growing consulting and professional services firm.
She has been awarded as the top Asian American owned businesses by USPAACC for 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 and 50 fastest growing women owned businesses in the CONUS by the Women Presidents Organization for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014, 2015. Ampcus Inc made the Inc500/5000 list for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. Ampcus Inc has also been recognized as the Top diversity business for the years 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014.
She has helped fortune 2000 companies with their enterprise-wide customized solutions. She reports to the board and drives the company to attain its vision of being one of the largest Professional services companies globally. She has been involved in executing a consultative methodology to define, qualify, and quantify the clients’ targeted and strategic IT and business objectives and from this developed solutions to proactively address current and evolving needs and projects.
In 2014 Ann was awarded Women in Technology Entrepreneur of the year by Women in Technology and in 2015 Ampcus was awarded the growth award by Astra WBENC. They were also awarded Washington Technology Fast 50.
Ann holds her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in business and commercial management from India. She has also completed an executive management program from Robins School of Business, University of Richmond.
If you are a woman entrepreneur trying to raise venture capital, this article, written by Vivian Giang, will certainly guide through the majors difficulties. It will let you succeed in the “Jungle” of raising venture capital funds, or at least it is going to give very useful advices. This article (Hyperlink) shares the stories of six women entrepreneurs who have successfully acquired funding in this complicated system.
Sure statistics prove that the method of financing still has some challenges, especially when you think that male entrepreneurs are 40% more likely to get VC funding than female founders, but change is on the horizon, and these entrepreneurs are certainly an example of tenacity and sharpness.
Get to know Nicole Sanchez, founder of luxury hair distribution company, VIXXENN ; Jessica Richman, cofounder and CEO of uBiome, a platform for microbiome sequencing; Mada Seghete, cofounder of developer tool, Branch Metrics; Mona Bijoor, founder and CEO of JOOR, a private online fashion marketplace for wholesale buying; Fern Mandelbaum, entrepreneur, managing partner at Vista Venture Partners and lecturer at Stanford Business School; and Umaimah Mendhro, cofounder and CEO of VIDA, an e-commerce platform that aims to connect designers, artists, producers, and consumers.