WIPP and American Express OPEN Helped Women Business Owners To Do Business With the Federal Government

Washington (PRESS RELEASE – October 24, 2009) – Since the launch last year of “Give Me 5: Education and Access for Women in Federal Contracts,” Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP), the nation’s largest bipartisan women’s business group, and American Express OPEN, the nation’s leading issuer of payment card products for small business owners, have helped more than 20,000 women business owners take the important first step in doing business with America’s biggest customer-the federal government-by registering their businesses on the Central Contractor Registration (CCR).

“In today’s economy, the federal government is one of the few organizations spending major money: $787 billion in stimulus funds, plus $500 billion in procurement each year,” said Barbara Kasoff, president and chief operating officer of WIPP. “WIPP and OPEN launched Give Me 5 to help women business owners gain the information and resources needed to access and win federal contracts.”

To date, the Give Me 5 program has educated 200,000 women on federal contracting opportunities through events, a series of one-on-one mentorships and a comprehensive online training curriculum.

Give Me 5 derives its name from The Equity in Contracting for Women Act (2000), which stipulates that federal contracting officers award 5% of all contracts to women-owned businesses. With women presently receiving 3.4% of federal contract dollars in 20081, Give Me 5 aims to increase the representation of women-owned businesses that win government contracts and stimulus funds.

“When we launched Give Me 5 last year, we saw billions of dollars in procurement goals being left on the table by women business owners,” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. “Since the program launch, we’ve been reminded of the power and perseverance of women business owners and have far exceeded our original goals to educate, engage and enroll through Give Me 5. We’re confident that through our partnership with WIPP we can help more women access federal contracting opportunities.”

As part of the Give Me 5 program, American Express OPEN and WIPP launched www.giveme5.com, a portal for business owners who are getting started in federal contracting. The site features a rigorous online training program including podcasts and webinars, a downloadable version of OPEN BOOK: Government Contracting, a co-authored step-by-step guide about contracts, links to OPEN Insights, a series of in-depth guides and worksheets and many other resources to help small business owners get their business “contract-ready” to do business with the federal government.

Also as part of the Give Me 5 program, Lourdes Martin-Rosa, American Express OPEN’s Advisor on Government Contracting, kicked off the Give Me 5 mentoring program to help women around the country win their first government contract. Selected business owners for the mentoring program include:

* Valarie King-Bailey, OnShore Technology Group – Chicago (http://www.on-shore.com)
* Laurie Simon, Ombrella Consulting – Seattle (http://www.ombrellausa.com)
* Maureen Borzacchiello, Creative Display Solutions – New York City (http://www.creativedisplaysolutions.com/)

“The insight I’ve gained through my mentorship with the Give Me 5 program has been invaluable to my business and helping me achieve my federal contracting goals,” said Valarie King-Bailey of OnShore Technology Group. “Using the techniques I learned in my mentorship, I have already identified several solid leads for subcontracting opportunities and I am well on my way to being added to the General Services Administration for a series of prime contracting opportunities.”

To help replicate the success of her mentees, Martin-Rosa has developed a series of tips to help business owners prepare to secure contracts from the federal government:

1. Get started. Do market research by checking out government contracting opportunities online at www.fbo.gov to determine what kinds of contracts would be a good fit for a business’ capabilities. Take note of contracts that have already been awarded and research the firms who won them. They will provide excellent case studies for how to make bids more successful.

2. Get contract ready. To register to apply for government contracts, a business will need a federal tax ID number (also known as an EIN), a DUNS code, a NAICS code and a business’ checking account number.

3. Get necessary classifications that give your firm an advantage. If a business qualifies to be an 8(a), women-owned, veteran-owned, small and disadvantaged firm, or if it is located in a HUB Zone – get certified. There are contracting goals set by the government to do business with these firms, so it pays to classify as such.

4. Build your CCR profile. Register a business on the Central Contractor Registration (www.ccr.gov). This is the profile government agencies use to research potential clients – so fill it out completely and accurately.

5. Consider sub-contracting and teaming. Large firms with government contracts also have small business contracting goals. Research what firms hold contracts and contact them to determine how to help fulfill their goals. Sub contracting is an excellent way to gain exposure to government contracting and may ultimately help a business win a contract as a prime.

1 According to the U.S. Small Business Administration’s third annual small business procurement scorecard, which was issued in August 2009.

About Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP)

Women Impacting Public Policy is a national bi-partisan group comprising over half a million members. The non-profit organization is the public policy voice for 45 national Women in Business groups and is The Voice for Women in Business in Our Nation’s Capital. WIPP strengthens its members’ sphere of influence in the legislative process, creates economic opportunities for members and builds alliances with other small business organizations. Visit www.wipp.org.

About American Express OPENSM

American Express OPEN is dedicated exclusively to the success of small business owners and their companies. OPEN supports business owners with exceptional service. With tailored products and services, the team delivers purchasing power, flexibility, control and rewards to help customers run their business. Specifically, business owner customers can leverage an enhanced set of products, tools, services and savings, including charge and credit cards, convenient access to working capital, robust online account management capabilities and savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners. To obtain more information about OPENSM, visit www.OPEN.com, or call 1-800-NOW-OPEN to apply for a card. Terms and conditions apply.

American Express Company www.americanexpress.com is a leading global payments, network and travel company founded in 1850.

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Anita Campbell Anita Campbell is the Founder, CEO and Publisher of Small Business Trends and has been following trends in small businesses since 2003. She is the owner of BizSugar, a social media site for small businesses.

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