The US Small Business Administration (SBA) has announced the launch of 20 new Women’s Business Centres (WBC) across the United States. The centers are designed to serve rural, urban and underserved communities alike.
The opening of the new centers marks the biggest single expansion of WBCs in the US in the administration’s 30-year history. The rollout of the new centers are aimed at supporting women-owned businesses to help them recover and succeed during these difficult times.
SBA Expands Women’s Business Centers
The Covid-19 pandemic has naturally led to disruption and unease among many small business owners. It has hit women in business particularly hard. A report released by the Female Founders Alliance in September 2020 surveyed professional women and non-binary individuals. It found that before the pandemic, 87% of respondents said they were “highly likely to start a company”. Six months later, 51% said they had delayed or scrapped their plans.
Receiving Vital Business Support
It is vital small businesses receive support to help them navigate these testing times. Though training and funding opportunities, WBCs help women entrepreneurs launch new businesses and compete in the marketplace. The expansion of WBCs across the US could prove a crucial lifeline for small businesses belonging to marginal groups, such as women-led businesses.
Jovita Carranza, SBA Administrator, spoke of how the centers will support female entrepreneurs:
“Over the past several months, we have seen Women’s Business Centers provide aid to our nation’s innovative and determined entrepreneurs, allowing countless small business owners to pivot with confidence to stay afloat during the pandemic.
“Expanding the WBC program is part of this Administration’s longstanding commitment to the success of female entrepreneurs and women-owned small business. Adding these new Women’s Business Centers to the already existing network of centers across America will boost timely resources to our nation’s female economic drives, providing them with local training and counselling.”
Mentoring for Female Entrepreneurs
SBA’s WBCs are a national network of around 136 centers. The facilities offer training, networking, workshops, technical assistance, and one-to-one counseling. They also provide mentoring of women entrepreneurs on topics related to financial management, starting up a business, marketing, procurement, and more.
The 20 new centers opened on January 1, 2021. They are located in the states of Alabama, Arizona, California, Georgia, Maine, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin.
The expansion of WBCs could prove invaluable in helping women and marginal groups overcome the many hurdles the pandemic has thrown up and ultimately succeed in business ownership.
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