US Women's Chamber of Commerce supports Hillary


The US Women's Chamber of Commerce, the leading advocate for women on economic and leadership issues recently announced its endorsement of Hillary Clinton for President of the United States. This is the organization's first ever presidential endorsement, and I spoke to Margot Dorfman, CEO of the organization to find out why they're supporting Clinton and how they're helping women across America start their own businesses.

What difference will Hillary Clinton make for small businesses if she becomes President?

If Hillary Clinton is elected President, small businesses will have a real champion in the White House who has committed to making small business growth a key objective of her presidency. Her experience serving as the head of an important U.S. government agency (U.S. Department of State), Senator and First Lady has given her a real insider’s view of how government works and can be focused toward achieving goals that advance our country.

She has already committed to several important actions that will unleash small business growth including: raise middle-class incomes which will in turn drive greater consumer spending with small businesses, launch a nationwide effort to cut red tape at every level of government, provide tax relief, assist American small businesses to tap new international markets, leverage a variety of tools to improve access to capital and open the doors much wider for small business access to federal contracts.

The assessment made by the leadership of the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce, confirmed that Hillary Clinton’s policy and action commitments are right on target for small business new opportunities and growth.

What in Clinton’s record persuaded you to support her candidacy? 

Hillary Clinton has consistently been a fighter for the revitalization of the American middle class. This is very important to small businesses many of which provide goods and services in their community. Main street businesses rely upon strong consumer spending for the success of their businesses. She has received the endorsements of key leaders from both the House and Senate small business committees.

As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton worked to open up new markets for American business and recently she supported the funding of the Ex-Im bank which provides loans to small businesses as they take part in international trade.

The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce leadership examined the organization’s priorities along with the history, capability, commitments and electability of current presidential candidates - Hillary Clinton stands out because of her markedly unique governmental experience, deep and broad policy and leadership expertise, an undeniable commitment to women’s economic priorities and a campaign infrastructure that lays the foundation for a clear pathway to the White House.

What are the main problems facing small business owners, and specifically women?

American small businesses need higher middle-class incomes to drive increased consumer spending with their firms, greater access to capital to drive and manage growth and lower taxes so that they can reinvest in their employees, expansion and new markets.

One of the biggest barrier facing small businesses, especially women-owned firms is a level playing field.  For too long, big businesses have been rigging government policies and getting taxpayer handouts while small businesses have been left out in the cold when trying to achieve growth, support their communities, employees and families. Hillary Clinton’s objectives to level the playing field will dramatically improve the economic output of small businesses.

Women left Corporate America in droves between 1997 – 2007 to start their own businesses because of the lack of fair pay, family-friendly work environments and the ability to break through the glass ceiling.  Unfortunately what they found on the outside was more discrimination.

Already at a competitive disadvantage because women-owned firms seek to pay fairly and provide family friendly work environments, they also found an inability to access business loans which stunts their growth. Women currently only receive $1 out of every $23 dollars of conventional small business loans. And women continue to be asked for their husband’s signatures even though the husband has nothing to do with the business. Banks continue to cherry-pick, lending millions of dollars to larger businesses while complaining about the cost of smaller SBA-backed loans, which impacts small businesses as a whole.

In their quest to access federal contracts, women-owned firms have been virtually locked out of the marketplace.  While there is a Woman Owned Small Business set aside program, it is wrought with fraud – the Government Accountability Office reported that, for 2012 and 2013, 40% of the contracts awarded under the program went to ineligible firms; the issue continues today. Additionally the federal agencies are reluctant to use the program.  And when they do use the program, the contracts are smaller and do not provide real opportunities.

Until these issues are resolved, women-owned firms will continue at a disadvantage which is not just bad for the owner, but also for her family, her employees and their families and ultimately the community that relies on consumer spending and tax revenues for its growth and stability.

What advice can you offer women who are thinking of starting their own business?

My number one piece of advice is, because of the challenge of accessing capital, women looking to start their own businesses should take time to build the foundation before they quit their day jobs. They need to make sure they have a sound business and marketing plan and follow it, making adjustments as market demands shift.

What are the USWCC’s priorities and objectives for the year ahead?

The U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce report on the Women's Economic Priorities highlights the contributions women have made to America, outlines our current economic condition and states clearly the types of federal budget and policies that are vital to support Women’s Economic Priorities. From this report, we narrowed down the U.S. Women’s Chamber of Commerce 2016 Top 5 Priorities to support strong economic growth which are:

1. End minimized access to capital, composition and high capital cost which holds women-owned businesses back from realizing their full economic potential
2. Increase access to federal contracts for women-owned small businesses
3. Improve workplace issues impacting women workers and business owners
4. Raise American incomes
5. Curb and stabilize healthcare costs for small businesses and individuals

Find out more about the USWCC by visiting their website. 
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