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Why Are Women-Owned Businesses Losing Billions of Dollars? You Won't Believe the Answer!

Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., is a strong supporter of legislation that will give women business owners greater access to government contracts.
It all started in the year 2000 when the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) created the Women-Owned Small Business Program (WOSB) that would allow federal agencies to set aside contracts specifically for WOSBs. The government stated that it's goal was to reward 5 percent of its prime contracting dollars to women-owned businesses. Guess what? It hasn't happened!

Why women are losing billions

The government has only reached 4.3 percent of it's 5 percent goal of government contracts awarded to women-owned businesses, according to the SBA. One reason might be that many of the contracts have been given to firms that aren't even eligible according to Congress' set-asides guidelines. Many feel this reflects a lack of good management of the WOSB program by the SBA.

What are they doing to fix the problem?

Problems with poor administration of the program by the SBA were uncovered by a Government Accountability Office study. An analysis completed in 2012 and 2013 found that more that 40 percent of those who received set-aside contracts through the women-owned small business program were ineligible for the program.

The discovery was a crushing blow to a program that is supposed to support women in business. The Government Accountability Office has since imposed stronger regulations to the SBA, and the SBA is responding by implementing the changes. But that doesn't put back into the pockets of women-owned businesses the estimated $5 billion in federal contracts they lost last year.