Senator Cantwell Targets Business Loan Gender Gaps

Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Washington) Chairman of the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship, introduced legislation in late July that would make it easier for women-owned businesses to get loans and to secure federal contracts. With loans providing companies the means to expand, the committee views lending to small businesses as a key component in job creation.

Women currently own a third of all businesses in the United States, yet their companies receive only 4.4 percent of loan dollars according to the committee’s report 21st Century Barriers to Women Entrepreneurship: State of Washington Edition.

Women make up half of the population, and we have a lot of ideas that could become great products and spur our economy, Cantwell said. This legislation will help ensure women entrepreneurs get the right tools they need to turn those ideas into new businesses and create jobs.

The legislation implements recommendations from the committee’s report that showed significant barriers for women attempting to start or grow their own businesses. The Women’s Small Business Ownership Act of 2014 (S. 2693) seeks to improve the accessibility of lending and increase business counseling and training services for businesswomen. Additionally, the legislation could give women owned businesses the same level of access to federal contracts as other disadvantaged groups. To address the gaps the legislation would:

  • Expand the and improve on the SBA’s Microloan and Intermediary Lending programs
  • Allow sole source contracting for federal contracts awarded through the Women-Owned Small Business Federal contract program
  • Expand the Women’s Business Center program to expand and improve training services in an attempt to connect with more female entrepreneurs particularly from low income areas