This year marks the 30th anniversary of one of the most game-changing pieces of legislation for women business owners: H.R. 5050, also known as the Women’s Business Ownership Act that was signed into law on October 25, 1988 by then-President Ronald Reagan.
As I sat down to write this month’s blog and thought about the theme, “On the Money,” I kept coming back to this Act that was decades in the making by smart and driven women entrepreneurs (many of them NAWBO leaders), key stakeholders, advocates and allies who saw a critical need for equal access for women business owners and government support for these business owners. It was truly on the money—then and now—because of how it transformed, and continues to shape, the way women entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses.
While 1988 doesn’t seem like so long ago, it was a whole other world for women business owners. Before H.R. 5050, women who wanted to take out a business loan couldn’t do it alone. Many states still had laws requiring women to have a male relative—be it a father, husband or son—cosign. It didn’t matter if he was involved in the business, just that he was male. H.R. 5050 accomplished so much more, too. It established the Women’s Business Center program, Office of Women’s Business Ownership at the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the National Women’s Business Council as an independent, non-partisan federal advisory council to the White House, Congress and the SBA. It also increased the SBA’s access to capital, required the U.S. Census Bureau to include C Corporations when presenting data on women-owned firms, especially including women-owned C Corporations, and directed the SBA to provide financial assistance to private organizations geared toward women-owned small businesses.
It’s one of those pieces of legislation that as time goes on, you hope the next generation of women entrepreneurs, and the generations after, will never forget. That’s one of the reasons why NAWBO National has some exciting things planned to celebrate H.R. 5050’s anniversary and impact, from a whitepaper we are releasing this spring to a special celebration we are holding later this year with the support of our corporate partners.
While H.R. 5050 changed the way we access the money and support we need as women business owners, this month’s issue of NAWBO ONE connects us with expert financial advice from partners like Bank of America and innovative funding opportunities just for women. Our featured members also share the best financial advice they’ve ever received.
Enjoy, and I’ll look forward to celebrating H.R. 5050 with you throughout 2018!
—Kathy Warnick, 2017-2018 NAWBO National Board Chair