March 05, 2020

Duckworth, Scott, Cardin and Collins Introduce Bipartisan Bill to Support Women Entrepreneurs


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – Ahead of International Women’s Day on March 8, U.S. Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), Tim Scott (R-SC), Ben Cardin (D-MD) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced bipartisan legislation, the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise Act of 2020, to reauthorize a federal interagency committee that helps coordinate federal resources to encourage the formation, growth and success of women-owned businesses. There are currently an estimated 13 million women-owned businesses operating in the United States, employing 9.4 million workers and generating revenue of $1.9 trillion. This bill would build on this growth by reviving the Interagency Committee for Women’s Business Enterprise (ICWBE).

We should be doing everything we can to help women-owned businesses grow and create jobs in their communities,” said Duckworth. “I’m proud that we’ve come together in a bipartisan manner to introduce this legislation, which would help level the playing field for women entrepreneurs and business owners by making sure they have access to resources across federal agencies. It would also make sure the federal government shares and implements best practices so women can start and expand their businesses and keep contributing to our economy.”

Today women are seeing near 50-year low unemployment numbers and rising wages. It is imperative that we continue to build on that success by ensuring women entrepreneurs have the resources they need to continue growing their businesses,” said Scott. “I am proud to support the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise Act, bi-partisan legislation that ensures the necessary leadership to carry out the committee’s mission including identifying barriers for women in the work place and establishing solutions.”

Women are key drivers of new business formation in America, despite the barriers to business ownership they continue to face, including lower loan approval rates and lower annual revenue. Women are creating new businesses at more than twice the rate of the overall population,” said Cardin, Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship. “I am proud to join Senators Duckworth, Scott and Collins in introducing this bipartisan bill that will coordinate the federal government’s efforts to support women entrepreneurs.”

Small businesses are the foundation of our nation’s economic strength,” said Collins. “Our bipartisan bill would reauthorize the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise, providing information and resources for women-owned businesses and women entrepreneurs.”

The ICWBE was established in 1979 and its work was critical to the efforts of several federal agencies and departments to develop policies to assist women business owners. The Interagency Committee was maintained through both Democratic and Republican administrations, but has been inactive since 2000 with no chairperson to operate it. The efforts to better coordinate federal resources are critical to make sure that women entrepreneurs receive the assistance they need to help start and grow their business enterprise.

The Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise Act of 2020 would amend Title IV of the Women’s Business Ownership Act to reauthorize the interagency committee by making sure a chairperson is appointed to operate the committee, which would help increase the ability of the federal government to provide targeted assistance to women entrepreneurs as they seek to start and grow their businesses. It would also update the agencies and departments that would coordinate to make sure all resources are being used effectively. This bill would update the interagency mission to identify the barriers women business owners and women entrepreneurs face in starting and growing their businesses.

Organizations that support this legislation include: National Women’s Business Council (NWBC), Small Business Majority, Center for American Entrepreneurship, Women Construction Owners and Executives (WCOEUSA), National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP).

The National Women’s Business Council appreciates the work of Senators Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) and Tim Scott (R-SC) in spearheading a legislative reauthorization of the Interagency Committee on Women’s Business Enterprise. The Council recognizes this body as an important vehicle to coordinate, and not duplicate, federal efforts to empower women entrepreneurs. We are especially encouraged by the proposed addition of agencies historically unrepresented on the Committee. As stated in our 2019 policy recommendations to Congress and the Administration, we continue to support the reconvening of the Interagency Committee to better utilize federal government resources, advance women business owners, and strengthen the economy,” said NWBC Chair Liz Sara. 

For women-owned businesses, the playing field is not yet level. They still face challenges beyond those faced, in general, by small business entrepreneurs. Access to capital and other resources, including mentorship and networking, are key factors in the success of women in the construction industry. Your bill would provide important support of women's business enterprises through coordination of management, financial, and procurement assistance programs among all agencies. WCOE applauds your continued efforts to support women business owners in Chicago, through-out the state of Illinois and the country,” said Theresa Kern, Director of the Chicago Women Construction Owners and Executives (WCOE) Board of Governors.