Did you know that our state is home to the highest concentration of women-owned businesses in the
country? It is a distinction that fills me with great pride and fuels
my work as Chair of the Senate Small Business Committee. So I always
look forward to October, because it is National Women’s Small Business
Month, during which we recognize the contributions of women-owned small
businesses to our local and national economies
This year, National Women’s Small Business Month comes
more than 18 months into the COVID-19 pandemic, which has devastated
women-owned small businesses. Many are reporting a decline in sales and
fear of permanent closure. In 2020, more small businesses closed than
any other year on record and, as of May 2021, more than 37% of small
businesses have closed, according to research conducted by Opportunity Insights.
Throughout the pandemic, women entrepreneurs have been more likely than
male owners to report a significant decline in the overall health
of their business. Historically, women-owned small businesses lag behind male-owned small companies in three
forward-looking measures: investment plans, revenue projections, and
The COVID-19 pandemic truly has confirmed the key role
the federal government has in empowering women entrepreneurs to
overcome the pervasive, historic roadblocks that stop them from
starting and growing successful businesses. In fact, a recent
report issued by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that
policies enacted by Congress in the bipartisan Economic Aid Act and the
American Rescue Plan made distribution of loans under the Paycheck
Protection Program (PPP) more equitable this year than during 2020. For
example, while women were underfunded during the first round of PPP
administered by the Trump administration, the report found that the
share of loans made to women in 2021 under the Biden administration —16
percent—was in line with the percentage of small businesses owned by
women, also 16 percent.
This report shows that through thoughtful, targeted
efforts, it is possible to bridge the historical gaps that prevent
underserved entrepreneurs from starting and growing small businesses.
Now, as Congress continues to debate President Joe
Biden’s Build Back Better Agenda—a once-in-a-generation investment in
our families, communities, and small businesses—it is vital that we
build on the lessons learned during the pandemic to continue investing
in women entrepreneurs.
That is why I am convening a hearing in the Small
Business Committee next week, so the Senate can hear from women
entrepreneurs, experts, and advocates about how we can unleash the full
potential of women-owned small businesses.
I am especially looking forward to hearing the testimony
of Dr. Tammira Lucas, founder of The Cube Cowork in Baltimore and
cofounder of Moms as Entrepreneurs. She will shed light on the unique
barriers that mothers face on the path to business ownership, as well
as the tools and resources Congress can create to support them on their
The economic recovery that lies ahead will be difficult,
but it is also an opportunity. With the right investments, Congress can
empower women entrepreneurs so they can be an engine of economic growth
for communities in Maryland and nationwide. Already, women-owned
businesses employ 9.2 million people—only 8 percent of the total
private sector workforce. And they generate $1.8 trillion in annual
revenue—only 4.3 percent of annual private sector revenue. While these
numbers seem small on the surface, they tell a remarkable story about
the potential for women owned small businesses: from 2007 to 2018,
total employment by women-owned businesses rose 21 percent, while employment for all
businesses declined by 0.8 percent.
In other words, women-owned small businesses have been
drivers of economic growth in our economy despite the myriad headwinds
they face on the path to success. And it’s even more evident for
minority women. Between 2007 and 2018, businesses owned by minority
women grew by more than 163 percent.
Imagine what our women entrepreneurs could do if there
were less obstacles in their way, and if they had more support during
their entrepreneurship journey?
To ensure a robust recovery, Congress needs to continue
to be deliberate in our efforts to support women entrepreneurs. Through
thoughtful policy, Congress can make meaningful changes to empower
entrepreneurs, especially women. The years ahead pose a challenge, but
they are also full of potential. We simply cannot allow this time to go
If you are interested in watching the hearing next week
on Wednesday, October 27 at 2:30 PM (ET) to hear from Dr. Lucas and our
other witnesses, it will be livestreamed here.