LOS ANGELES, -- In an effort to help more women business owners get their fair share of federal contracting opportunities, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is bringing the Give Me 5 program government contracting curriculum to its network of 110 Women's Business Centers (WBC) across the country. Launched in 2008 by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and American Express OPEN, the Give Me 5 program curriculum aims to educate women business owners and increase the number of government contracts awarded to women.
The Give Me 5 program derives its name from The Equity in Contracting for Women Act (2000), which sets the goal for federal contracting officers to award 5% of all contracts to women-owned businesses.
Through a series of events, one-on-one mentorships and a comprehensive online training curriculum, the Give Me 5 program has educated more than 250,000 women on federal contracting opportunities and helped more than 24,000 women business owners take the important first step to working with the federal government -- getting their businesses on the Central Contractor Registration (CCR), the primary vendor database for the federal government. Last month, 150 WBC leaders gathered in Washington, D.C. for training on the Give Me 5 curriculum.
"Bringing the Give Me 5 program to our Women Business Centers will help more women business owners do business with the government, as well as help the government beat its 5% contracting goal for women-owned businesses," said SBA Administrator Karen Mills.
"We are thrilled to work with the SBA and value the commitment of Administrator Mills and the agency in advancing women's procurement programs," said Barbara Kasoff, president and chief operating officer of WIPP. "The SBA and the Obama Administration have made great strides in supporting the women's business community with the recent proposed rule to expand federal contracting opportunities for women business owners. Through these efforts, we are confident that we can help more women access and win federal contracts."
Today, the Pacific Asian Consortium in Employment (PACE), a WBC in Los Angeles, in partnership with the Give Me 5 program is conducting training on federal contracting opportunities for nearly two hundred local and regional women business owners.
A new study released by American Express OPEN examining the successes and challenges among women and minority business owners in government contracting found that federal contracting can be fruitful for those business owners willing to persevere.
In fact, the second report of OPEN's groundbreaking survey of more than 1,500 business owners listed in the Federal Procurement Data System (FPDS) and registered on the CCR found that two thirds of women whose firms do business with the federal government generate more than $1 million in sales, even though it took them nearly two years, on average, to land their first contract.
Following are some of the key findings found in the report:
-- Women and minority small business owners who are active prime contractors are achieving success in the federal marketplace: 65% of small businesses that are prime federal contractors generate over $1 million in sales, including 63% of women-owned small business prime contractors and 63% of prime contracting firms owned by persons of color. Also, women and minority business owners took a similar period of time to land their first federal contract as overall active contractor -- nearly two years.
-- Women, though nearly as successful, have not reached quite the same high levels of contracting success as their male peers: 42% of active women contractors estimate that they've received $1 million or more in federal contracts, including 16% who've won $10 million or more. This compares to 47% and 23% among active male contractors.
-- Minority business owners have had to work much harder -- and are making a greater investment -- to win federal contracts: Minority business owners report having submitted an average of 27.7 bids for prime contracts over the past three years (9.2 bids annually) versus 19.5 bids for active small business contractors (6.5 bids annually) and 19 bids for women (6.3 bids annually) during that same timeframe. Minority business owners also invested significantly more in 2009 - $108,368 on average. In contrast, women business owners invested $70,512 while successful contractors overall invested just over $86,000 last year.
-- Success strategies employed by women and minorities differ: For women, the GSA schedule has proven to be a fruitful route to contract success with 40% of active women-owned business contractors on the GSA schedule (versus just 33% of minority-owned businesses and 34% of all active small business contractors). For minorities, it's all about making personal connections as they are far more likely than average to have attended a procurement matchmaking event (55% versus 38% of all active contractors); met with an agency OSDBU or procurement official (58% versus 37%); and attended an agency-led procurement seminar (58% versus 44%).
-- Though women and minorities are equally successful once becoming active federal contractors, both are still far more likely to be left at the starting gate: 48% of non-contractors (those that have yet to win a prime contract) are minority business owners and 39% are women.
"Generating more demand for their products and services is a top concern for business owners, and doing business with the federal government, which is the world's largest customer spending more than $500 billion annually(1), can be an effective way for these firms to increase revenue," said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. "We're committed to helping business owners do more business, and that's why we partnered with WIPP to create the Give Me 5 program and conducted groundbreaking research examining the challenges and opportunities associated with federal contracting."
The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was created in 1953 as an independent agency of the federal government to aid, counsel, assist and protect the interests of small business concerns, to preserve free competitive enterprise and to maintain and strengthen the overall economy of our nation. The SBA helps Americans start, build and grow businesses. Through an extensive network of field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations, SBA delivers its services to people throughout the United States, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and Guam. The agency plays a significant role in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, deploying credit tools provided under the law that have resulted in more than $27.5 billion in small business loans since the Act was passed in February 2009.
About Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)
Women Impacting Public Policy is a national bi-partisan group comprising over half a million members. The non-profit organization is the public policy voice for 45 national Women in Business groups and is The Voice for Women in Business in Our Nation's Capital. WIPP strengthens its members' sphere of influence in the legislative process, creates economic opportunities for members and builds alliances with other small business organizations. Visit www.wipp.org.
About American Express OPEN
American Express OPEN is the leading payment card issuer for small businesses in the United States and supports business owners with products and services to help them run and grow their businesses. This includes business charge and credit cards that deliver purchasing power, flexibility, rewards, savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners and online tools and services designed to help improve profitability. Learn more at www.OPEN.com and connect with us at openforum.com and twitter.com/openforum.
American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at www.americanexpress.com and connect with us on www.facebook.com/americanexpress, www.twitter.com/americanexpress and www.youtube.com/americanexpress.
(1) Federal Procurement Data System
SOURCE: American Express OPEN