On Thursday, we hosted a briefing for members of the National Women’s Business Council, an independent advisory committee that provides counsel to the President, Congress, and the U.S. Small Business Administration on economic issues of importance to women business owners. The NWBC came to the White House to engage with members of the Administration about how women owned- businesses can best compete in today’s economy. The accomplished group represented a cross section of women who do everything from working with Fortune 500 companies and running engineering firms, to representing mothers in the business world.
The participants were briefed by Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President; Gene Sperling, National Economic Advisor; Austan Goolsbee, Chair of the Council of Economic Advisors and Ginger Lew from the National Economic Council and Small Business Administration. Each of the officials talked about the improving economy and the challenges we still face. For example, there have been 1.8 private sector jobs created during the last 13 months. Despite this growth, there is still a lot of room for improvement. Mr. Goolsbee reminded us that the Administration is working on creating sustainable solutions for improving the economy that are mindful of the deficit, but still invest in our infrastructure.
The members discussed the important role women will play in our nation’s economic recovery. Forty years ago women owned only five percent of small businesses, but today they own nearly 30 percent. Yet studies have shown that women owned businesses tend to be smaller and grow at a slower rate than men owned businesses.
President Obama is committed to supporting the cultural and systemic changes that are needed to ensure women are on an equal playing field when competing in the business world. That’s why we’ve supported the Small Business Administration (SBA) in providing access to capital for women who want to start their own business. SBA loans are three to five times more likely to go to women and minorities than traditional, conventional small business loans, making the increased SBA lending in the Small Business Jobs Act extremely important for women.
We look forward to receiving advice from the NWBC in the future so that we can continue to work towards improving the status of women in business.
Jennifer Kaplan is the Deputy Director of the White House Counsel on Women and Girls