Forum Panelists (left to right): Ana R. Harvey, L. Content McLaughlin, Raychel Schumacher, S. Lynn Cooper, and Edith Jett McCloud
- Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY) addresses attendees at the women-owned business forum
On Tuesday, February 15, hundreds of women business owners flocked to the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, DC to hear from the experts during a minority women-owned business forum, The Trailblazers of Our Economy. Hosted by Maryland Congresswoman Donna F. Edwards (D-MD), the panel discussions featured an impressive cadre of elected leaders, government agencies, and key contract decision-makers.
Steps away from where elected officials are currently battling a contested United States budget, the forum tackled two primary themes: trends in female entrepreneurship and improving the outlook for women-owned businesses.
Rep. Nydia Velazquez (D-NY), Ranking Member of the House Committee on Small Business, noted that women account for $1 trillion spent on goods and services in 2010. According to the Congresswoman, who represents New York’s 12th Congressional district, women own 1.9 million businesses, and generated $165 billion in revenue last year.
Women are leveraging their impact on the workplace as the leading group that hires employees, outpacing traditional, nationally recognized companies. Rep. Velazquez cited the Women’s Procurement Program, which launched this month, as a vehicle to increase competition among businesses, including those in construction, technology, and agriculture.
Trends Affecting Female Entrepreneurship, moderated by Mauricio Vera, Director of the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization at the U.S. Agency for International Development, highlighted statistics in female business ownership. Panelists included Michelle Ebanks, President of Essence Communications; Gregory Bell, Senior Communications Manager for Green for All; and, Anthony Caruso, Project Manager for the United States Census Bureau.
The second panel, Improving the Outlook for Minority Women-Owned Businesses, featured S. Lynn Cooper, National Association of Black Female Entrepreneurs; Ana Recio Harvey, Assistant Administrator for the United States Small Business Administration; L. Content McLaughlin, President of the National Association of Women Business Owners; Edith Jett McCloud, Associate Director of the Minority Business Development Agency; and, Raychel Schumacher, AdWords Strategist for Google, Inc.
Moderated by Essence Magazine’s Senior Editor of Personal Finance and Careers, Tanisha A. Sykes, the panel focused on the framework for successful entrepreneurship, which can positively impact revenue, an increase in employees, and a sustained business.
Ana Recio Harvey shared her personal story of entrepreneurship and the impact of limited resources had on her company and staff. She encouraged participants to “get counseling, training, and mentoring to prevent roadblocks.”
Raychel Schumacher emphasized the importance of maximizing an online strategy to stay relevant and maintain a continued presence. Schumacher opined that having a great team to support initiatives and business growth goals is a necessity, rather than a luxury.
The panelists agreed that access to opportunities, including government contracts, and access to capital creates a healthy, thriving workplace. The common denominator of success, according to Edith Jett McCloud is an entrepreneur’s “hunger and thirst for more knowledge…never be satisfied until she knows everything about her business, market, and competitors.”
Watch our interview with Samira Cook-Gaines, Director, of the DC Women’s Business Center>>>CLICK HERE TO WATCH