Posted By: Envision2bWell, Inc
On Tuesday, June 15, 2021, Founder and CEO of Envision2bWell, Tammy Williams, spoke alongside three other witnesses in front of the U.S. House of Representatives Small Business Committee. The hearing was titled, Reversing the Decline in Women Entrepreneurship: Opportunities for Rebuilding the Economy. The four women testified about the decline of female entrepreneurship and the difficulty of accessing capital with members of the Economic Growth, Tax, and Capital Access subcommittee. Here are some of the highlights from this important hearing that will affect legislation and initiatives from the government to assist and support women entrepreneurs. Click below to watch the full video of the hearing.
The hearing began with remarks from Chairwoman Rep. Sharice Davids (KS-3) and Ranking Member Rep. Dan Meuser (PA-9). Rep. Davids noted that there are significantly less women in the workforce post-COVID, and said “women historically have a much harder time obtaining the capital needed to start and run a business.”
Rep. Meuser said he spoke with female entrepreneurs and found that they’re struggling with “lack of labor, fear of increased taxes, high cost of goods, projects delayed due to burdensome regulations, supply change shortfalls, and ever-changing government mandates.”
Envision2bWell's CEO, Tammy Williams, focused her testimony on women business owners' lack of access to capital, their lack of access to the key relationships and connections that can propel their business, and the financial struggles resulting from COVID-19.
“I urge the subcommittee to proactively take steps to break down barriers with respect to access and support for women entrepreneurs,” Williams said. “Together we can eliminate obstacles that prevent women from accessing critical capital to succeed in business.”
Sherry Turner, Executive Director of the Kansas City Women’s Business Center, had a similar message with her testimony. She listed a few strategies Congress could adopt to increase female entrepreneurship.
“Fully fund the WBC program at $30 million in core funding, provide an additional $48 million COVID-related appropriation, and waive the match requirement until fiscal year 2023,” Turner said.
Referring to the WBC program, Turner mentioned the legislative bill H.R.4405, which was introduced to Congress by Rep. Davids in September 2019. The bill, entitled “Women’s Business Centers Improvements Act of 2019”, is designed to help women-owned small businesses by modifying the Women’s Business Center program to receive more grants. The bill was passed in the House and has been received by the Senate.
This desire for an expansion of H.R.4405 was echoed by speaker Natalie Buford-Young, CEO of Springboard Enterprises. She suggested that the committee “establish governmental grant programs that directly support women entrepreneurs, while establishing key metrics on their outcomes.”
A final theme that was present with the witnesses was the discrepancy that minorities face when starting a business. Ayris Scales, CEO of Walker’s Legacy Foundation, touched on this.
“Supporting wealth creation for low- to moderate-income black and Latino women, female founders, and entrepreneurs is fundamental to reversing the decline and building back stronger via a system that is not just focused on rebounding, but focused on true and equitable recovery,” Scales said.
After each witnesses’ testimony, members of the committee asked questions. Several of the representatives had questions and engaged in the discussion on women business owners. When asked what her top priority is when it comes to helping female business owners, Williams said, “My top priority, and I can’t say this enough, is access. Access and relationships that are going to lead to capital.”
In her parting words, Williams said, “We can always, always do more. We need other ways to provide capital. Banks have a set of criteria that women don’t always fall into very neatly, and especially women of color.”
The hearing further emphasized the importance of H.R.4405, and shed some light on what it’s like to be a woman business owner during a pandemic. After each testimony, it was clear that the committee members and witnesses were dedicated to improving the resources and financial grants available to women trying to make their way in business.
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