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Memorandum From the President on Women's Business Enterprise

May 18, 1979

Memorandum for the Heads of Executive Departments and Agencies

Subject: Women's Business Enterprise

The Task Force on Women Business Owners which began its work on August 4, 1977, presented me with its report, The Bottom Line: Unequal Enterprise in America, on June 28, 1978. I then directed the heads of all departments and agencies to analyze its recommendations and indicate what assistance they might provide women business owners.

The Task Force found many obstacles facing women entrepreneurs, including a lack of adequate capital, lack of marketing opportunities, and lack of management and technical skills. The Task Force concluded that these deficiencies result, at least in part, from discriminatory practices. The Task Force also recognized the significant contribution which small businesses and women entrepreneurs can make towards innovation, full employment and balanced growth in our economy.

To ensure that women can fully participate in our economic system I have today issued an Executive Order which establishes a national policy for expanding the opportunities for women's business enterprise. The Order creates an Interagency Committee on Women's Business Enterprise which will be the permanent structure for promoting, coordinating and monitoring greater efforts on behalf of women-owned businesses by the Federal Government.

The Order also directs Federal departments and agencies to cooperate with the Committee and to develop affirmative action plans for a greater role for women business owners in their business assistance and procurement activities.

There are many actions that agencies and departments could take to implement this policy. For instance, the Task Force noted that since women face special barriers in acquiring the capital necessary for creating or expanding their own businesses, they need greater access to Federal loan programs. As part of this new policy, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has agreed to take the following actions:

• Establish a goal of $50 million in FY 1980 for direct loans to women under Section 7(a) of the Small Business Act;

• Initiate a pilot 7 (a) "mini-loan" program in FY 1980 for women whose needs for starting or expanding a business are for amounts under $20,000 and evaluate the usefulness of this pilot program in creating successful enterprises over a reasonable length of time.

• Encourage full participation of women in procurement activities by instructing SBA's Procurement Center Representatives to locate and assist women-owned businesses;

• Try to add 15,000 women-owned firms to SBA's new Procurement Automated Source System (PASS) by the end of FY 1980.

Recent data indicates that women owned firms will receive only about $63 million in Federal procurement dollars in FY 1979. The Task Force found that efforts to encourage full participation of women in Federal procurement activity have been less than adequate. Therefore, the Office of Federal Procurement Policy has agreed to:

• Set the following overall goals for Federal prime contracts:

1) An approximate doubling of the dollar amount of Federal prime contracts to women-owned firms in FY 1980 to at least $150 million.

2) A redoubling of this amount in FY 1981 to $300 million.

• Develop and implement a process for collecting data on the numbers and amounts of Federal prime contracts and subcontracts under Federal prime contracts awarded women-owned business;

• Revise government-wide procurement regulations to assure that Federal prime contractors increase their use of women-owned firms as subcontractors. These revisions include:

1) Developing clauses for inclusion in prime contract solicitations and in prime contracts which encourage the use of women-owned firms as subcontractors to the maximum degree feasible.

2) Study the feasibility of developing an incentive clause for inclusion in appropriate prime contracts which offers a dollar award to a prime contractor for subcontracting with women-owned firms in excess of an agreed upon goal for such subcontracting.

The Task Force also found a serious lack of data about women entrepreneurs and the types of the businesses they own. In order to develop this needed information, the Department of Commerce has agreed to have the Census Bureau update its 1972 survey on women-owned businesses and conduct a special survey to gather additional essential demographic data on the woman business owner and her enterprise.

The Task Force stressed the importance of early education in encouraging women to have a free choice of all possible careers. Therefore, the Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare has agreed to take the following actions:

• Develop and promote educational and counseling programs emphasizing entrepreneurial skills and business enterprise as a career option for both males and females.

• Develop such programs for use in the Nation's public and private secondary schools, institutions of higher education and vocational education programs.

• Report to me at the end of FY 1980 on the progress of such efforts and on future plans.

This memo and the Executive Order express my personal commitment to a national women's business enterprise policy. I expect the heads of all departments and agencies with business assistance programs and activities such as those mentioned in Section 1 of the Executive Order, and those with procurement authority, to substantially improve the quality of this assistance and support to businesses owned by women. With your commitment and cooperation, we can greatly improve the opportunities for women who own businesses in our economic system.


Jimmy Carter, Memorandum From the President on Women's Business Enterprise Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/249437

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