Administrator Isabel Guzman, head of the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and the voice in President Biden’s Cabinet for America’s more than 33 million small businesses, celebrated the 35th anniversary of Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 (H.R. 5050) on October 25th by announcing new data showing SBA-backed loans to women-owned small businesses are up nearly 70 percent under the Biden-Harris Administration, totaling $5.1 billion in lending to women-owned businesses in FY23.
Women’s Business Ownership Act changes lending practices
The Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 helped change the way women do business in America – most importantly by empowering them to start up on their own. The rise in SBA lending to women-owned businesses reflects the leading role of women entrepreneurs in small business growth: women-owned firms now employ more than 10 million workers and add more than $2 trillion to America’s GDP each year, and women-owned employer firms are growing at more than three times the rate of their male counterparts.
“Women-owned small businesses are helping to power America’s historic small business boom. The Biden-Harris Administration remains committed to ensuring women receive the capital and resources they need to build resilient businesses and create jobs to fuel our economy,” said SBA Administrator Isabel Guzman. “SBA’s reforms to its lending programs are delivering on this commitment, as new SBA data shows there has been a 70 percent increase in SBA lending to women-owned businesses under this administration. Bidenomics is about growing our economy equitably and, in the last fiscal year, women received $5.1 billion in SBA-backed loans to start and grow their businesses. We are celebrating these gains, but also doubling down on our commitment to continuing our transformations to ensure women get the capital they need to fully participate in and contribute to our economy.”
The Act established NWBC and WBCs
H.R. 5050 eliminated laws requiring women to have a male relative co-sign a business loan, paving the way for the SBA to lend directly to women entrepreneurs. The legislation also established the National Women’s Business Council and provided seed funding for the SBA to launch Women’s Business Centers (WBCs), which today are an integral component of the SBA’s resource partner network – helping women entrepreneurs throughout the United States access capital, training, and counseling.
In a tightening credit environment, the SBA’s lending programs deliver a market solution by offering government-backed loans with favorable terms to fill market gaps and get needed funding into small businesses. Under the Biden-Harris Administration, the number of loans and total lending dollars have increased after steadily decreasing during the previous administration. Since FY20, SBA loans to majority women-owned small businesses have seen a 70 percent increase. Total loan dollars in FY23 amounted to $5.1 billion, growing by more than 60 percent under this administration. Majority women-owned businesses now make up more than one-fifth of the SBA’s lending portfolio, compared to 15.6 percent in FY20.
|SBA 7(a) & 504 Loans to women-owned businesses||FY 2017||FY 2018||FY 2019||FY 2020||FY 2021||FY 2022||FY 2023|
|Dollars (millions)||$4,057||$3,830||$3,777||$3,208||$5,718||$4,695||$5,181 |
|Share (% of loans)||17.7%||17.1%||17.4%||15.6%||16.6%||18.7%||21.3%|
Biden Administration takes steps to include women entrepreneurs
Under the Biden-Harris Administration, the SBA has taken significant steps aligned with the President’s Investing in America agenda to increase access to its core capital programs, including among women entrepreneurs. These include:
- Launching the largest expansion of Women’s Business Centers in 30 years with 20 new WBCs in rural and underserved markets across America;
- Expanding the Community Advantage Program, which supports lending to small businesses in underserved communities through mission-driven, community lenders, and demonstrated higher rates of lending to women-owned businesses in the pilot program, making mission-oriented lending a permanent part of the SBA loan program through the Community Advantage Small Business Lending Company license;
- Deploying the $100 million Community Navigator Pilot Program funded under President Biden’s American Rescue Plan;
- Implementing new reforms to address persistent capital access gaps.
SBA’s 7(a) loan is the SBA’s primary business loan program. It provides guarantees to lenders that support financing to small businesses for working capital and a range of other uses, up to $5 million. SBA’s 504 loans provide long-term, fixed-rate financing up to $5.5 million for major fixed asset purchases by small businesses.
The SBA guarantee enables lenders to offer credit to small businesses that otherwise would not qualify. SBA lenders must adhere to interest rate caps and fee restrictions. They often help borrowers by providing more extended repayment periods that would otherwise be unavailable.
About the U.S. Small Business Administration
The U.S. Small Business Administration helps power the American dream of business ownership. As the only go-to resource and voice for small businesses backed by the strength of the federal government, the SBA empowers entrepreneurs and small business owners with the resources and support they need to start, grow, or expand their businesses or recover from a declared disaster. It delivers services through an extensive network of SBA field offices and partnerships with public and private organizations. To learn more, visit U.S. Small Business Administration.
Read more about the Women’s Business Ownership Act of 1988 here.