Women owned businesses rule! Now, in more ways than one. Known as the Women Procurement Program Rule, the Small Business Association recently filed the final rule on this program, which is aimed at increasing federal contract opportunities for female owned and operated businesses.
Small Business Trends quotes SBA Administrator Karen Mills: "Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing sectors of the economy, and even during the economic downturn of the last few years, have been one of the key job creation engines in communities across the country. Despite their growth and the fact that women lead some of the strongest and most innovative companies, they continue to be under-represented in the federal contracting marketplace. This rule will be a platform for changing that by providing greater opportunities for women-owned small businesses to compete for and win federal contracts."
The women owned small business rule recognizes eighty three industries where women are underrepresented when it comes to federal contracts. Women owned businesses currently receive roughly 3.4% of federal contracts. The goal of that rule is to boost that percentage to 5%. To be eligible, a business must be 51% women (owned and controlled), the women must be U.S. citizens, the business must be defined as small relative to the industry. Program participants will be eligible for deals up to $3 million in most industries, and $5 million in manufacturing.
Federal agencies contracts represent a $500 billion business. Actively working to include women in these contracts has been a goal of the SBA for a long time. The program is expected to be in full effect by early 2011.