Women entrepreneurs recover and excel in today’s challenges

Updated March 22, 2022 - 1:50 pm

The pandemic tested the strides of record women-owned businesses started during the last decade. Today, women-owned businesses are powering our economy’s historic recovery and delivering some of the strongest rates of job creation and new business applications in American history.

“Shop small” was brought to the forefront during the Pandemic as consumers across the nation saw the local economic impacts of small businesses.

As the newly appointed U.S. Small Business Administration Region IX regional administrator by President Joe Biden, I have the honor to speak with women business owners to learn how SBA can assist them so that their businesses not only recover but excel in today’s economy. SBA is committed to advancing equity by ensuring that women entrepreneurs have the resources to help level the playing field.

As I speak with women entrepreneurs across the region, a common question I get asked is: how do they partner with government agencies to sell their goods and services. Under the leadership of President Biden, SBA is making top-of-mind “shop small” across all federal agencies by transforming how the U.S. government — the world’s largest buyer — spends billions of America’s tax dollars on goods and services each year.

We are addressing inequity in the federal procurement process and making changes to level the playing field. While women own roughly 20 percent of all small businesses economy-wide, less than 5 percent of federal contracting dollars go to women-owned small businesses. Woman-owned businesses employ 10.1 million people, resulting in $1.8 trillion in receipts.

As a result of President Biden’s action, all federal agencies now have a bold new goal to increase the share of contracts going to small disadvantaged businesses by 50 percent by 2025, translating to an additional $100 billion to small disadvantaged businesses over five years.

Women-owned businesses can evaluate their readiness for government contracting by working with SBA resource partners, such as Women Business Center and Small Business Development Centers, to learn how to register as a government contractor and qualify for contracts through small business set-aside programs.

SBA also developed the ACSENT Learning Platform to offer online learning opportunities specifically geared to women business owners and launched its sixth Journey this year, dedicated to teaching women business owners how to navigate the federal contracting world.

While the process may be intimidating, SBA resource partners are ready to assist with questions women entrepreneurs may have, in addition to reviewing business plans and models to better equip them in a successful business journey.

I encourage women to use SBA resources in all stages of their business. Business owner Andrea Vigil started her business in Las Vegas, Allegiant Electric a full-service electric company at the kitchen table. A woman minority-owned company in a predominately male industry, she utilized SBA’s resource partners and credits SBA’s Emerging Leaders program for receiving the tools that helped her survive the impacts of the pandemic. Starting her small company with a staff of three in 2015, she now employs 27, contracts with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, and is pursuing purchasing a building. She prides in mentoring other women entrepreneurs so that they also can start and grow their business.

Every year, March is designated Women’s History Month to honor women’s contributions to American history. Today, women entrepreneurs are making history with their contributions to today’s historic recovery and strongest job creations.

For more information on SBA resources, visit

Elmy Bermejo is the regional administrator for the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Region IX. She oversees the agency’s programs and services in California, Arizona, Nevada, Hawaii and Guam.

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