Washington, D.C.— Today, the House Small Business Committee Subcommittee on Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access held a hearing examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women-owned businesses. The hearing, led by Chairwoman Sharice Davids (D-KS), gathered women business owners and experts to detail the ways the pandemic has exacerbated the longstanding barriers that women in business face and how Congress can empower female entrepreneurs as the nation works toward recovery.
“A strong recovery from this crisis will depend on helping female entrepreneurs rebuild and getting women back in the workforce. This requires a deliberate investment in initiatives that drive and support female entrepreneurship,” said Chairwoman Davids. “Today’s hearing will allow us to examine what is working, and what changes Congress can pursue to ensure that we are meeting the needs of women small business owners.”
The COVID-19 pandemic inflicted unprecedented damage on women-owned small businesses. Throughout the pandemic, female entrepreneurs were more likely to close their businesses and report a significant decline in the overall health of their companies. COVID also dealt a severe blow to women’s progress in the workforce as women lost their jobs at rates 24 percent higher than men. These factors combined with the systemic challenges facing women in the business world led to an unprecedented decline in female entrepreneurship.
During the hearing, Members had the chance to examine government programs designed to support women-owned businesses, and steps Congress can take to empower female entrepreneurs and get women back in the workforce, such as the Women’s Business Centers Improvement Act introduced by Chairwoman Davids and Rep. Jim Hagedorn (R-MN) last Congress.
“Since 1996, new entrepreneurs within Asian, Black and Latino communities have steadily increased, and foreign-born new entrepreneurs have more than doubled. We must continue these trends and continue to encourage traditionally disadvantaged communities to turn to entrepreneurship,” said Sherry Turner, Executive Director of the Kansas City Women’s Business Center in Fairway, KS. “As we look ahead at strategies to bolster entrepreneurship in a post-COVID economy, we must keep in mind that new entrepreneurs are increasingly likely to span any age, gender, and pull from any breadth of experience. Diversity breeds innovation, and we look forward to working alongside these new entrepreneurs in building their businesses.”
“Capital is the lifeline of business. The ability to secure capital often determines an entrepreneur’s opportunity to start or grow. There are nearly 10 million women-owned businesses in the United States, generating $1.6 trillion in receipts and employing nearly 9 million Americans,” said Tammy Williams, Founder & Chief Executive Officer of Envision2bWell, Inc. In West Chester, PA. “Yet, for women, accessing capital continues to be difficult. Women account for only 16% of conventional small business loans and receive only 4% of all commercial loan dollars.”
“This moment and the momentum that’s finally focused on investing resources, infrastructure and policies to support and advance small businesses, particularly those led by minorities, women and other marginalized demographics could not come at a more poignant moment in time,” said Ayris T. Scales, Chief Executive Officer at Walker’s Legacy Foundation in Washington, DC. “At Walker’s Legacy, we recognize that women are the backbones of our families and home, that women led enterprises and small businesses collectively are the backbone of our communities and that in turn makes them the backbone and true engine of our economy.”