From his perch as the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship, this week, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., paired up with U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., brought out the “Women and Minority Equity Investment Act.”
Rubio’s office insisted the bill will “clarify that women-owned and minority-owned small businesses are still eligible for contracting opportunities even if they receive more than 50 percent of capital from private equity or venture capital firms.”
“Firms in the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Contracting and 8(a) Business Development programs help the federal government meet its statutory goal of awarding 5 percent of all contracting dollars to women and 5 percent to disadvantaged businesses,” Rubio’s office noted. “Currently, to qualify for participation in the WOSB program or the 8(a) Business Development program, firms must be 51 percent owned and controlled by one or more women or minority persons for WOSB and 8(a) programs respectively. This legislation will clarify that a woman-owned or minority-owned small business would not lose their contracting status when taking investments from venture capital and private equity firms that are also owned by either women or minorities.”
Rubio went to bat for the proposal on Wednesday.
“This bipartisan bill makes it clear that women-owned and minority-owned small businesses do not have to choose between private investment to build their companies, or having access to bid on federal set-aside contracts that will help them scale and grow,” Rubio said. “Importantly, the bill also spurs venture capital and private equity investments for businesses owned by either women or minorities — two groups that have been historically underserved by venture capital — and will encourage women- and minority-owned venture capital firm development. As the Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship continues to work on a comprehensive reauthorization of the Small Business Act, I look forward to working with Senator Cantwell and my colleagues to advance the growth of entrepreneurship and access to capital in underserved communities.”
“Women- and minority-owned businesses are under-represented in our economy,” Cantwell said. “We need to do everything we can to increase access to capital for women- and minority-owned businesses and not have the Small Business Administration penalize them for receiving private equity investment.”
The bill drew the support of a series of groups.
“We all know that access to capital is a barrier to entry and growth for women owned businesses. This bill will not only assist these businesses, it will have a positive impact on the financial industry, as it will spur growth for women-owned equity/VC firms. We applaud Senators Cantwell and Rubio for leading this breakthrough on an issue that has been an impediment to women’s business growth,” the Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) said in support of the bill.
“We are pleased to see this bipartisan effort to help women overcome the hurdles they face when they want to scale their business and enter the federal marketplace,” said Jeanette Armbrust, the board chairwoman of the National Association of Women Business Owners. “As a bipartisan organization, we look for solutions to strengthen the economic landscape for women business owners. This bill does that. Not only will more women enter the procurement arena, but also, this will open doors to more venture capital for women. I commend Chairman Rubio and Senator Cantwell on their unwavering support of the women business owners in America.”