Opportunities for women Veteran-owned small businesses are growing exponentially. There are programs specifically geared toward positioning women Veteran-owned small businesses in level playing fields in the federal marketplace.
Women transitioning out of the military and working in business that desire to find success in federal contracting can leverage various resources provided by the Women Veterans-Owned Small Business Initiative.
VA has been progressively working on inclusivity when it realized there was a need for expanding women Veteran-owned small businesses. That’s where VetBizLadyStart comes in. Participants attend training and networking sessions facilitated by successful women mentors from the government and commercial marketplaces. The program helps bridge the gap between economic disparities by providing underserved populations equal access to contracts.
In addition to VetLadyBizStart, VA’s WVOSBI – in coordination with the PenFed Foundation – graduated another class of women Veterans who attended the Women Veteran Boot Camp Accelerator.
Upon completion of the Accelerator program, women Veterans participated in a prize-winning pitch competition, ultimately awarding Army Veteran and President of Abrado Analytics Lisa Van Wormer a grant to help grow her business.
“This program was amazing because it taught me a lot about federal contracting,” Wormer said. “I thought I knew a lot about federal contracting because of my military service. However, this program taught me things I needed to know as a business owner. The program really helped me focus on the path I had to take to grow my company.”
President of WJM Professional Services LLC Veronica Lane participated in both the Accelerator and VetLadyBizStart, and said she was grateful for completing the program and the opportunity to meet motivated women Veterans.
“My goals were to ramp up and receive four contract awards and apply for an increased line of credit from my business banker — and I was able to accomplish both!” Lane exclaimed.
According to the Small Business Administration, there are 2.5 million Veteran-owned businesses in the U.S., and only 15% are owned by women Veterans. That’s 375,000 businesses out of roughly 31 million small businesses in the entire country. With about 12.3 million women-owned businesses in the U.S., that piece of the pie looks like this:
Although the federal government has annually maintained its goal of awarding 23% of its procurement funds to small businesses, the 5% of contract spending that is allocated to women owned small businesses has only been met twice in 2015 and 2019.
Additionally, there are monies available from SBA’s HUBZone to small business owners that are not being tapped into, leaving billions of dollars on the table and not getting recycled back into the communities for employment and promotion of diversity and competition. In particular, VA has been unable to achieve 5% in WVOSB participation as prime vendors in VA.
That’s why VA’s Women Veteran-Owned Small Business Initiative strives to find practical ways to bring entrepreneurs to the table. Initiatives like VetLadyBizStart and the Boot Camp Accelerator promote inclusivity, provide equal access to resources and enhance women entrepreneurs’ opportunities in government contracting.
These two programs are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to resources VA has available for its Veterans. Want to learn more? Visit VA’s Office of Small & Disadvantaged Business Utilization.