2022 National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO)
The National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) members are diverse in many ways, including the size of their business, the sectors and communities they serve, the stage of business development, race, ethnicity, geographic business areas, and political leanings that determine policy views. The NAWBO Advocacy Agenda embodies the ever-present need to represent all of our members while creating both the avenue and environment to build sustainable women-owned businesses:
1. Addressing the Needs of the "Microbusiness" and Encouraging Emerging Entrepreneurs
· Defining a Microbusiness: Congress needs to codify a definition of microbusiness to be utilized by all federal agencies to better support access to capital and procurement opportunities.
· Understanding the New Age Woman Worker: Lawmakers need to understand the importance of the flexibility afforded to business owners and their employees with the 1099 concept as opposed to W-2 status, where both laws and employers can impose restrictions that become barriers to work/life balance needs of women. Regulations must allow for both concepts moving forward.
2. Hiring Squeeze
· Leveling the Playing Field for Hiring: A 2021 Gusto-NAWBO survey found that 40% of NAWBO's women business owners reported difficulty hiring in the fall of 2021. Whether providing training to close the skills gap (or reskill/upskill) or providing incentives for employee benefits, we must ensure that women business owners have access to talent and can compete to build sustainable businesses.
· Prioritizing Our Nation's Caretakers: A large portion of women business owners juggle their businesses alongside caretaking responsibilities, or they hire employees who are caretakers. Lawmakers must understand how caretaking responsibilities factor into the daily activities of small business owners as they craft legislation to strengthen small businesses. As we previously stated, lawmakers need to understand the importance of the flexibility afforded to business owners and their employees with the 1099 concept as opposed to W-2 status, where both laws and employers can impose restrictions that become barriers to work/life balance needs of women.
3. Implementation of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Act: Broadband Expansion
According to the NAWBO/Gusto survey cited above, 70% of women-owned small businesses increased reliance on broadband during the pandemic, and 30% of owners report issues with broadband access, which leads to delays in daily business operations and directly impacts a company's bottom line.
· Access Regardless of Race/Ethnicity: More than a third of NAWBO's Native American/American Indian women business owners and close to a quarter of Asian American Pacific Islander women business owners reported a lack of broadband access. This underscores the need to address the digital divide across different races and ethnicities for women business owners.
· Reaching Rural America: Broadband issues have negatively affected 12% of urban business owners surveyed. By comparison, nearly 40% percent of rural business owners surveyed reported negative impacts to their business due to a lack of affordable, reliable high-speed internet.
· Oversight: Congress must ensure that our nation builds the proper infrastructure to reach these underserved populations, including providing oversight on broadband expansion efforts to ensure that no community is left behind.
4. Accessing Capital through Increased Financial Literacy Education
· Creating a Network of Financial Professionals: Lawmakers must investigate viable ways to educate women and minorities on developing long-standing relationships with financial institutions. Establishing open communication with local and national banks that are open to financing small businesses is critical. All entrepreneurial development programs offered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), such as Women Business Centers(WBCs), Small Business Development Centers (SBDCs), and SCORE, should host events to connect WBOs with financial institutions to form these much-needed relationships.
· Investing in Yourself: Many women business owners lack access to financial literacy training. For women to be set up for success, there must be greater availability of education related to financing, capital, and credit. Women business owners would benefit from increased opportunities to learn about the importance of investing money into their businesses to grow and scale. All of SBA’s Resource Partners should have financial education components specifically designed for women business owners.