At the SBA’s recent Women’s History Month virtual event, I listened as Christy NaMee Eriksen, who owns Kindred Post – a post office, gift shop and neighborhood gathering place in Juneau, Alaska – shared how the economic assistance she received from the SBA in Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans and Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDL) “allowed me to keep my team employed and [make] them feel safe.”
Christy is passionate about the power of art to tell stories, bring people together, and activate positive social change. Throughout the pandemic, she has been partnering with other local businesses and nonprofits to host pop-up events at Kindred Post -- to provide her community with an avenue for fun and opportunities to stay connected.
Her story reminds me that the work we’re doing here at the SBA to help small businesses recover from the COVID-19 pandemic not only helps individual business owners like Christy get back on their feet, but it also helps entire communities remain intact. As someone who grew up in a small business family and started my own businesses, I’ve experienced firsthand the symbiotic relationship between small businesses and the communities they serve. As we reflect on the accomplishments of women small business owners during Women’s History Month, it is important to honor the ways in which female entrepreneurs depend on – and lift up – their communities.
My mother, who was a teacher, instilled in me the importance of using my voice to advocate for others. That’s why I am so passionate about using my platform as the SBA Administrator to bring about meaningful changes for the small business community – particularly women business owners of color.
Because while women-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing segments of the small business community - up from 5% of businesses in 1970 to 38% today – the opportunity gap persists and has been made worse by the pandemic. Women-owned businesses were 1.7 times more likely to close during the pandemic than their male counterparts.
The SBA has and will continue to play a critical role in helping our nation’s women-owned small businesses startup, grow and be resilient. We’ll achieve this through impactful initiatives that truly work for women business owners. We’re making progress and I’m excited to report that PPP loans to women-owned small businesses were up 14% in March.
And while I know we have a lot of work to do, I’m optimistic about the changes that have occurred recently thanks to the leadership of President Biden and Vice President Harris. Through the American Rescue Plan Act - the $1.9 trillion relief package signed into law on March 11 - the SBA is making key changes and expansions to pandemic relief programs that will increase support for women business owners and other underserved communities.
Help is Here for small businesses! Here are a few examples of the relief that we’re bringing to our nation’s small businesses:
$7.25 billion more for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)
$15 billion in additional grants to help the smallest, most severely impacted businesses
$28.6 billion for a new restaurant grant program
Beyond pandemic relief, the SBA also offers numerous targeted resources for women business owners. This includes our more than 130 Women’s Business Centers and our Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Contracting Assistance Program.
Today, in 2021, we’re making history. I know that in the years to come, the women business owners of the future will look back and feel inspired by the perseverance, resilience, and grit that our nation’s 13 million women entrepreneurs have shown during this challenging time for our nation.
And I hope they will see how the SBA was standing with them – supporting them every step of the way.