On November 7, the greater D.C. chapter of the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) presented a panel on trends in finance, policy, and regulatory requirements that affect women small business owners. Treliant Risk Advisors hosted the event, Regulatory Developments Affecting Women-Owned Businesses, and Advocacy Economist Christine Kymn was a panelist. In the audience were women business owners in IT consulting, real estate, financial planning, risk management, and other sectors.
NAWBO got its start in 1974 as an informal group of women business owners in the Washington, D.C., area who met to trade information about federal contracts, bank credit, and business issues. Today, the organization fosters growth in women-owned businesses through focused programming and strategic relationships. NAWBO aims to build a community of women business owners, influence public policy, and encourage and support women’s business ownership. Many NAWBO members work in fields like engineering, which are typically dominated by males, and NAWBO is an important communication and support network for them.
The regulatory developments panel aimed to serve these overarching goals by introducing women business owners to regulatory issues that may affect them as well as to the advocacy and data resources available to them. Each panel member offered specialized issue perspectives and resources, and audience participation was encouraged and received throughout.
Ann Sullivan, President of Madison Services Group and head of WIPP’s government relations team, moderated the panel of experts in government regulations. Dr. Kymn identified a variety of data and research resources available from the Office of Advocacy, including databases that are specific to women-owned small businesses and the most recent summation of Census data on women in business. Jane Luxton, a partner at Pepper and Hamilton LLP, highlighted her experience working with Advocacy on environmental and consumer finance roundtables. Luxton pointed out that these roundtables provide small businesses with an opportunity to voice concerns to and learn about issues directly from regulatory agencies and Advocacy. Nick Owens, CEO of Magnolia Strategy LLC and a former SBA national ombudsman, noted the resources available from SBA in procurement and regulatory process enforcement. Wrapping up was JoAnn Barefoot, Co-Chair at Treliant Risk Advisors and a former deputy comptroller of the currency. Barefoot currently serves on the CFPB Consumer Advisory Board, and spoke to upcoming trends in financial regulation, as well as requirements specific to women-owned small businesses (for instance, SBA’s 2011 rule aimed at expanding federal contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses).
Overall, the panel provided an excellent platform for reciprocal communication and learning about both the needs and resources available to women business owners. Feedback during Q&A and following the panel indicated that the topic was very useful to NAWBO members; their prior knowledge of the spectrum of available regulatory and data resources was limited, but they fully intended to make use of them going forward. Panel members likewise benefited from the specific examples participants raised.
—by Christine Kymn, Regulatory Economist