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American Express partners with SBA, WIPP to assist female-owned businesses

american expressAmerican Express OPEN, the small business division of the credit card company, announced on Tuesday a partnership with the Small Business Administration and Women Impacting Public Policy to help improve government contracting opportunities for female-owned businesses.

The ChallengeHER initiative will provide free events and workshops, mentoring, online curriculum and access to government buyers in order to give female entrepreneurs the networking and knowledge necessary to compete in the government marketplace.

“At SBA, one of our top priorities is making sure that more qualified women-owned, veteran-owned and minority-owned small businesses have access to government and commercial supply chain opportunities,” SBA Administrator Karen Mills said. “Women-owned businesses are one of the fastest-growing segments of new businesses in our economy, and the ChallengeHER initiative will help connect these entrepreneurs with the tools and contracting opportunities they need to grow, drive innovation and create jobs.”

President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act earlier this year, removing $4 million and $6.5 million caps on eligible federal contract awards under the SBA’s Women-Owned Small Business Federal Contracting program. The SBA’s WOSB program, which was launched in February 2011, allows federal agencies to reserve government contracts for female-owned small businesses in order to help the government meet its quota of five percent of contracting dollars assigned to women-owned small businesses.

“The removal of the caps is good news not just for women business owners, but also for government agencies aiming to boost their procurement to women-owned small businesses,” Barbara Kasoff, the president of WIPP, said. “With the improvements to the WOSB program and our new partnership with the SBA and American Express OPEN, 2013 is the year for women contractors.”

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