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SBA Administrator announces plans to elevate the Office of Women’s Business Ownership

Earlier last week,  U.S. Small Business Administration Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman announced that the SBA intends to elevate its Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO) to directly report to the Office of the Administrator. The proposed change reflects the importance of women entrepreneurs held by the Biden-Harris Administration and SBA.

Established by Executive Order in 1979 and codified through the Women’s Small Business Act of 1988, OWBO’s mission has been to empower women entrepreneurs through advocacy, outreach, education, and support.

Under Administrator Guzman, the SBA has expanded the number of Women’s Business Centers (WBCs) to a record 140 locations nationwide. These WBCs offer a network of extensive on-the-ground resources that include free to low-cost counseling, training, business development technical assistance and are dedicated to assisting women entrepreneurs to start, grow, and expand their enterprises.

SBA, Isabella Casillas Guzman

SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman. (Photo Source)

“In 1972, there were a little over 400,000 women-owned businesses in the United States. Today, there are over 12 million proving that women entrepreneurs have become the fastest growing and one of the most impactful segments of the business community,” said Administrator Guzman in a press release. “While there has been historic progress in women’s entrepreneurship, significant disparities still persist, impacting women entrepreneurs’ access to resources and opportunity, especially in the face of the economic challenges posed by COVID. That is why I am proud to advance the mission of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership and reaffirm our commitment to America’s women-owned small businesses.”

This announcement comes after the release of the first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality commissioned by the White House outlining objectives and priorities for obtaining equity for women. 

“Women entrepreneurs are key to spurring innovation and supporting local economies and families across the country. That is why it’s so important that we continue to invest in women-owned businesses and give them the tools they need to succeed and grow. The elevation of this office sends a clear signal of this Administration’s commitment to ensure an equitable economic recovery, putting women at the forefront of our efforts to build back better for everyone. The White House Gender Policy Council looks forward to an ongoing strong partnership with the Office of Women’s Business Ownership in the months and years ahead,” said Jennifer Klein, Deputy Assistant to the President and Co-Chair and Executive Director of the WH Gender Policy Council.

Women represent the fastest-growing entrepreneurial segment in the country, with particularly high growth in entrepreneurship amongst multicultural women. Data from the SBA’s Office of Advocacy found that between 2014 and 2016, the number of employer firms owned by women grew six percent, twice the growth rate of employer firms owned by men. This exponential growth was mainly driven by an increase in employer businesses owned by minority women, which grew 14 percent in that time.

Photo created by tirachardz on Freepik.

COVID-19 dealt a severe blow to women-owned businesses which is why prioritizing recovery and addressing long standing inequities for women entrepreneurs is crucial to the survival and continued growth of these businesses. The elevation of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership will help ensure the continued success of the Women’s Business Center network. 

While it is evident that women entrepreneurs play a key role in our society and economy, they still remain underrepresented in many key factors, including access to capital, contracts, and connections. Led by OWBO, the SBA assists women-owned businesses in leveraging government resources – including recently announced opportunities through an equitable federal procurement strategy, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, and the Build Back Better Act – to level the playing field. 

Currently, the OWBO is an organizational component of the Office of Entrepreneurial Development. The SBA emphasizes that the reorganization is still in the planning stages and likely will not be finalized until the close of fiscal year 2022.

To find Women’s Business Center locations and additional SBA resources in your area, visit www.sba.gov/tools/local-assistance.

Isabella Guzman, Isabel Guzman, first Latina SBA Administrator,

Isabella Casillas Guzman confirmed as new SBA Administrator, a big win for small businesses

Isabella Casillas Guzman has been confirmed as the 27th Administrator of the U.S. Small Business Administration. A Latina business leader, Guzman is among a group of high-caliber Latinos that were nominated by the Biden Administration. 

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet, Isabel Guzman, Isabella Guzman, first Latina SBA Administrator

Isabella Casillas Guzman, first Latina SBA Administrator. (State of California, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

This past Tuesday, on March 16, the U.S. Senate confirmed President Joe Biden’s nominee with broad bipartisan support, 81-17 votes as Administrator of the SBA. In this position, Guzman will represent the more than 30 million U.S. small businesses and lead an agency committed to helping small business owners and entrepreneurs start, grow and be resilient.

Commenting on Guzman’s appointment, Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship Chair Ben Cardin (D-MD) said: 

 “SBA must continue to be a lifeline for small businesses in the months ahead, and I am confident that Isabel Guzman is the best person to lead the agency out of the pandemic and through the economic recovery to follow. Mrs. Guzman’s commitment to equity and her deep knowledge of the needs of small businesses will make her a strong advocate for all small businesses in the Biden Administration. I am looking forward to working with Mrs. Guzman as we in Congress work to fine-tune SBA to better meet the needs of small businesses in Black, Latino, Native, and other underserved communities.”

Administrator Guzman will lead a workforce of over 9,000 SBA employees and administer the SBA’s portfolio of loans, investments, disaster assistance, contracting, and counseling.  Additionally, she will implement critical financial relief for small businesses impacted by the pandemic through the Paycheck Protection Program, Economic Injury Disaster Loan Program, Shuttered Venue Operators Grant Program, and additional support recently passed in the American Rescue Plan.

Isabella Guzman, Isabel Guzman, first Latina SBA Administrator,

Isabella Guzman previously worked in the SBA during the Obama administration as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser. (U.S Small Business Administration, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

“Growing up in an entrepreneurial family, I learned firsthand the ins and outs of managing a business from my father and gained an appreciation for the challenges small business owners face every day.  Throughout my public and private sector career, I have been dedicated to helping small businesses grow and succeed,” said Administrator Guzman. “Now more than ever, our impacted small businesses need our support, and the SBA stands ready to help them reopen and thrive.”  

Previously, Guzman served as the director of the Office of Small Business Advocate in the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development where she served California’s four million small businesses, which employ 7.1 million Californians, the largest state network of small businesses in the country. Prior to her work in California, she worked in the SBA during the Obama administration as Deputy Chief of Staff and Senior Adviser. Guzman has also started small businesses as an entrepreneur. 

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 “I am excited to return to the SBA and serve as the voice of small business in the Biden-Harris Administration. I am committed to championing the Agency’s mission and helping equitably build back the economy,” Administrator Guzman continued. “I also look forward to working with the dedicated team of SBA professionals to ensure that the SBA creates and sustains inclusive entrepreneurial ecosystems for all of our diverse small businesses across the nation to thrive.”

latinos nominated to the cabinet

A closer look at the Latinos nominated to Biden’s Cabinet

Many changes are underway as we settle into the new presidency. Among issues of immigration reform and COVID-19 relief, another key topic is that of President Biden’s cabinet nominations. Representation and diversity have been central to President Biden’s choices for top White House positions. During the 2020 election, he promised to nominate “the most diverse Cabinet in history,” stressing that he wanted leaders that look like America. Among the Cabinet nominations are many historic firsts including multiple Latinos nominated to the Cabinet. 

Julie Chávez Rodriguez has been appointed as Biden’s director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations (Photo credit: White house photo office, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

“A Cabinet that looks like America”

The Cabinet’s role is to advise the President on any subject he or she may require relating to the duties of each member’s respective office and comprises some of the most senior positions in the executive branch. Historically until now, these positions have remained mostly male and white. However, if all of Biden’s nominees are confirmed, his Cabinet will contain more women and people of color than any other Cabinet in U.S. history.

“It’s a cabinet that looks like America, taps into the best of America, and opens doors and includes the full range of talents we have in this nation,” Biden said. 

Data shows that among the Cabinet appointees confirmed in the first 100 days of the last three presidential administrations, almost 72 percent were white, and 73 percent were male. Additionally, women have never made up more than 41 percent of a presidential Cabinet, and Black Americans have never accounted for even a third of the Cabinet.

Among Biden’s first 100-plus staffers, around 60 percent were women, more than 50 percent were people of color and 20 percent were first-generation Americans. 

Latinos Nominated to the Cabinet 

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Xavier Becerra, nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services. (Photo credit: Office of the attorney general of California, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Xavier Becerra, nominee for secretary of Health and Human Services

Biden has nominated California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to run the Department of Health and Human Services, a critical Cabinet position as the nation grapples with the coronavirus pandemic and navigates a nationwide COVID-19 vaccine rollout. If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Becerra would be the first Latino to serve as HHS secretary. Prior to becoming California attorney general, Becerra served 12 terms in the U.S. House, rising to a top leadership post and helping to steer the Affordable Care Act through Congress.

Miguel Cardona, nominee for secretary of Education

Connecticut Public Schools commissioner and former elementary school teacher Miguel Cardona is President Joe Biden’s Cabinet nomination for secretary of the Department of Education. With his nomination, President Biden delivers on his promise to nominate a teacher for the top education job. Now Connecticut’s top education official, Cardona began as a teacher at his former elementary school. He became the state’s youngest principal in 2003, and eventually the district’s assistant superintendent. 

If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, Cardona would be tasked with helping the administration get students and teachers back in the classroom after the COVID-19 pandemic forced at-home instruction in districts across the country.

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for secretary of Homeland Security (Photo credit: official Department of Homeland Security (government) portrait, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Alejandro Mayorkas, nominee for secretary of Homeland Security

Alejandro Mayorkas previously served as deputy secretary of Homeland Security and as U.S. Customs and Immigration Service director during the Obama administration. In 1998, Mayorkas became the youngest U.S. attorney in the country. He served as the U.S. attorney for the Central District of California until April 2001. He’s currently an attorney at the global law firm WilmerHale. If confirmed, he will be the first Latino and immigrant to hold the job. 

Isabel Guzman, nominee for administrator of the Small Business Administration 

Latinos nominated to the Cabinet

Isabel Guzman, nominee for administrator of the Small Business Administration (Photo credit: State of California, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons)

Latina business leader, Isabel Guzman is the first Latina named to a cabinet-level position. Biden nominated her to head the Small Business Administration as Latino businesses struggle to survive with fewer resources and less funding.

Guzman is currently the director of the Office of Small Business Advocate in the California Governor’s Office of Business and Economic Development. Prior to her work in California, she worked in the SBA during the Obama administration as deputy chief of staff and senior adviser. Guzman has also started small businesses as an entrepreneur. 

“And as head of the SBA, Isabel will be leading that critical mission to not only rescue small businesses in crisis, but to provide the capital to entrepreneurs across the country so they can innovate, create jobs, and help lead us into recovery,” Biden said when introducing Guzman as his choice.

Latinos nominated in other areas of government

In addition to the Latinos nominated to the Cabinet, President Biden has also continued his mission for diversity in his selections for other positions. Other Latinos who have been appointed to high-level positions include: Julie Chávez Rodriguez who has been appointed as Biden’s director of the Office of Intergovernmental Relations, and Adrian Saenz has been appointed deputy director of the Office of Public Engagement. 

“It’s not going to be easy. I don’t go into any of this with rose-colored glasses,” said Chávez Rodríguez, the granddaughter of the civil rights leader César Chavez.

Chávez Rodríguez will work with governors and local officials who are worried about security, pandemic surges, the challenges of mass vaccinations and states’ economic hardships. Despite the “overwhelming” challenges ahead, she said there’s “a real hunger” among governors of both parties and mayors to help solve problems.

“While, yes, we have multiple crises we are facing, I think there’s a real moment for a collaborative government that I am really excited and energized by.”

Confirmations for Biden’s cabinet nominations are expected to continue over the coming weeks. As of now two of Biden’s 23 nominees have been confirmed.