It's amazing to me that more women-owned small businesses are not taking advantage of a huge revenue stream -- the federal government.
Only 3.4 percent of all the federal contract dollars went to female entrepreneurs last year, according to data released by the Small Business Administration last week.
That figure's just unacceptable.
Earlier this year I wrote about long-awaited government rules that are supposed to help more women business owners jump on the government's gravy train, but many people believe the rules didn't go far enough.
"After nearly seven years of studies, delays and empty promises, the Administration had a chance today to finally show its commitment to women-owned firms -- unfortunately, this did not happen," said Rep. Nydia M. Velazquez (D-N.Y.), chairwoman of the U.S. House Committee on Small Business, after the rules under the "Equity in Contracting for Women Act of 2000" were finally released.
"These entrepreneurs are being shut out of billions of dollars in federal contracting opportunities, yet their concerns are falling on deaf ears," she added.
While I understand the disappointment Velazquez has expressed, women also need to step up to the plate and demand their share.
At a time when the economy is struggling, savvy businesspeople have to look for business wherever they can find it.
With a new administration coming into office, there will be new programs and initiatives, so now is a good time to check out what Uncle Sam has to offer.
You can get a little help from a new program co-launched by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and American Express OPEN, the small business division of the financial services company. The program is designed help give women a boost when it comes to accessing federal contracts.
"The numbers released by the SBA last week further validate our position that more needs to be done to improve access to federal contracts for women business owners," said Barbara Kasoff, president and chief operating officer of WIPP.
"The 'Give Me 5' program provides education about the federal procurement system in order to help women capitalize on this opportunity," she added. "Better access to federal contracts can help increase revenues for women business owners by billions each year, and the 'Give Me 5' program is designed to help women business owners reach that goal."
The federal government's goal is to have at least 5 percent of contracts go to women-owned businesses. But even that figure seems pretty pathetic, especially given that women own about 41 percent of the private businesses out there today.
So, what do you gals think -- can you surpass the goal this year?
(By the way, here's a link to the SBA's government procurement site, and here's some information just for women-owned businesses.)