In honor of Women’s History Month, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) held a two-day Women’s Business Summit on March 28-29, 2023, which drew more than 10,000 participants. Attendees heard from President Biden, Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman, the Senate Small Business Committee Chair Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the House Small Business Committee Ranking Member Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), business owners, investors, entrepreneurs, and lead advisors from across the small business community on various topics, including opportunities for women-owned businesses in federal contracting, e-commerce, and innovation and invention.
The week’s activities kicked off with an event with President Joe Biden and Administrator Guzman in the White House on Monday, March 27, 2023. In the event, President Biden announced new resources to support women small business owners and reaffirmed the Biden-Harris Administration’s continued commitment to supporting all of America’s small businesses.
“Every time someone moves to start a new business, it’s an act of hope. It’s an act of hope. We’re seeing a lot of these across the country. A lot of hope. And once again, it’s women leading the way,” said President Biden. “In 2021, women started and owned half of all the new businesses in the United States, up from less than a third had women started by them in 2019. Women-owned businesses like yours add $1.8 trillion to America’s GDP every year, and that number grows.”
The President’s remarks were followed by a fireside chat featuring Administrator Guzman; Natalie King, Founder, Dunamis Clean Energy Partners, Payal Kadakia, Entrepreneur, Melissa Butler, Lip Bar, and Sara Blakely, Founder, SPANX.
“From day one, President Biden has been a champion for American entrepreneurs,” said SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. “From the smallest of the small, initially left out of COVID relief who reopened and thrived thanks to his American Rescue Plan, to the inventors, manufacturers, supply chain companies and contractors, seeing growth opportunities thanks to his historic investments in American infrastructure and clean energy, and to our main street job creators who are benefiting from legislation that lowers the cost of health care and prescription drugs for their workers. And he sees us. He knows women are leading the way as they continue to grow, innovate, compete, and lift up neighborhoods and communities across the nation.”
The 2023 Women’s Business Summit was held in collaboration with the National Women’s Business Council and co-sponsored by Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center, Wells Fargo, and the Association of Women’s Business Centers. It featured four panels, two fireside chats, and six “Ask the Expert” sessions with top SBA officials to help participants leverage resources and funding as they work to recover and build back better than ever.
DAY 1: The Women’s Business Summit kicked off with remarks by Donald Smith, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Women’s Business Ownership; Tene Dolphin, Executive Director of the National Women’s Business Council; Robbie Shapiro, Senior Vice President at Wells Fargo and Director of Small Business Diverse Consumer Segments; Corinne Goble, CEO of the Association of Women’s Business Centers; and Diedra Henry-Spires, Senior Advisory to the SBA Administrator.
“Today, we acknowledge the 35 years of sustaining and supporting women entrepreneurs through the Women’s Business Center Grant Program,” said Smith. Along the way, we’ve helped hundreds of thousands of women create businesses, create jobs, empower their communities and access millions of dollars in capital. This summit allows us the opportunity to share what we’ve learned over the last 35 years, celebrate this Administration’s commitment to women entrepreneurs, but more importantly, bring more information to women entrepreneurs to help them start, grow and sustain their businesses.”
They were followed by welcome remarks by Sen. Cardin and Administrator Guzman.
“I just really want to applaud the Biden Administration and Administrator Guzman. You’re working on all the facets of equity. I particularly like the Women’s Business Centers,” said Sen. Cardin. “Administrator Guzman has been laser-focused on increasing the strength at the SBA, the internal capacity as far as the talent she has at the SBA. And then working with the right policies in order to implement opportunities for women, for underserved communities and for America.”
Following the remarks, Administrator Guzman led a Founders Fireside Chat with women business owners, including Jeni Britton, Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream; Cleo Barger, Mid-States Mariela Pindea; and Natalia Pretel, Tierra Encantada.
Nicola Corzine, Executive Director of the NASDAQ Entrepreneurship Center, moderated a panel titled “She Works Smart for the Money: A Best-Fit Approach to Accessing Capital,” featuring Maria Palacio, CEO of Progeny Coffee Carolyn Rodz; Alice Terriekka Cardenas, CEO of Hello Alice; Terriekka Cardenas, CEO of Perceptive Engineering & Construction; and Yuliya Tarasava, Co-Founder and COO of CNote.
Other panels from the first day consisted of panels concerning how to include equity in your small business model, featuring Jaime Gloshay, Co-Founder of Native Women Lead and NWBC Council Member; Gizelle George-Joseph, COO for the Global Investment Research (GIR) Division at Goldman Sachs; Nicole Cober, Founder of the BOW Collective and Principal Managing Partner of Cober Johnson and Romney; and Marla Bilonick, President & CEO of NALCAB. There was also a panel on the impacts of Historic Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), featuring Rasheeda Liberty, Chair of the National Pan-Hellenic Council, Council of Presidents; Bobbie Knight, President of Miles College; and Roslyn Clark Artis, President of Benedict College.
The day ended with closing remarks from Administrator Guzman and Rep. Velazquez.
“COVID threatened the decades of incredible progress female entrepreneurs had made in this country,” said Rep. Velazquez. “Throughout the pandemic, women-owned businesses were more likely to close and report a significant decline in the overall health of their companies. But in the face of these unprecedented times, female entrepreneurs persevered to rise above this challenge. Thanks to pandemic relief programs like PPP and COVID EIDL, women-owned small businesses were able to keep staff on payroll and avoid permanent closure. They were also helped along the way by our great SBA resource partners like Women’s Business Centers, SCORE mentors, Small Business Development Centers and Veterans Business Outreach Centers.”
DAY 2: Senior Advisor to the SBA Administrator Henry-Spires delivered opening remarks on the second day of the summit. Her speech was followed by a fireside chat with SBA resource partners moderated by Acting Assistant Administrator Smith and featuring the Association of Women’s Business Centers CEO Goble; and Bridget Weston, CEO of the SCORE Association.
This chat was followed by a panel titled “Supporting Native American Women Entrepreneurial Ecosystem,” moderated by Jackson Brossy, Associate Administrator of SBA’s Office of Native American Affairs, featuring Monica Jojola, President of Montech, Inc.; Veronica Maturino, CEO of ONABEN; and Onna LeBeau, Director of the Office of Indian Economic Development in the Department of the Interior.
The rest of the day consisted of “Ask the Expert” sessions featuring SBA officials covering innovation and investment, Veteran small business certification, certification and contracting, the Ascent Platform, exporting and international trade, and accessing loans and microfinance.
The day again ended with closing remarks from Administrator Guzman.