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Press release from Business Wire

SBA, WIPP and American Express OPEN Launch New Program to Close the Gap in Women Contracting

<p class='bwalignc'> <i>“ChallengeHER” Helps Women Business Owners Get Connected to Contract Opportunities, Agency Officials and Resources Offline and Online</i> </p>

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

SBA, WIPP and American Express OPEN Launch New Program to Close the Gap in Women Contracting

12:30 EDT Tuesday, April 23, 2013

NEW YORK (Business Wire) -- American Express OPEN, the small business division of the financial services company, today announced a new partnership with the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) and Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) to help boost government contracting opportunities for women-owned small businesses. The new initiative, called ChallengeHER, will deliver free events and workshops, online curriculum, mentoring and access to government buyers to provide women entrepreneurs with the knowledge and connections they need to successfully compete in the government marketplace.

ChallengeHER will kick off today at a luncheon in Washington, D.C. where representatives from the SBA, WIPP and American Express OPEN are coming together to unveil the new program to an audience of women-owned businesses.

“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,” said SBA Administrator Karen Mills. “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.”

Earlier this year, President Obama signed into law the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which removed caps on eligible federal contract awards under the Women-Owned Small Business (WOSB) Federal Contracting program. Originally, there was a $4 million and $6.5 million cap on awards to women-owned businesses under the program. Launched in February 2011, SBA's WOSB program enables federal agencies to set aside contracts specifically for women-owned small businesses to help the government meet its goal to give at least 5% of contracting dollars 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,” said Barbara Kasoff, president of WIPP. “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.”

“Participation in federal contracting can be a lucrative revenue booster and a way for women entrepreneurs to create a high-growth business according to our research which found that 42 percent of women-owned small business contractors generate revenues in excess of $1 million,” said Susan Sobbott, president of American Express OPEN. “With ChallengeHER, we are calling all women entrepreneurs to get out there, offer new innovative ideas and products to government agencies and push their annual revenues past the million-dollar mark.”

About Small Business Administration

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) provides critical support and resources across every state and in every congressional district to help small businesses grow and create jobs, focusing on the “Three C's” of capital, contracting and counseling. Additionally, SBA plays an increasing role in helping to spur innovation and strengthen the nation's competitiveness through successful investment and research and development focused programs, as well as export and trade assistance. Finally, SBA also serves as one of the leading federal agencies providing assistance to businesses of all sizes, homeowners and renters following natural disasters. For more information, visit www.sba.gov.

About Women Impacting Public Policy

WIPP is a national non-partisan public policy organization, advocating on behalf of nearly 1 million women-owned businesses representing 68 business organizations. For more information, please visit www.wipp.org.

About American Express OPEN®

American Express OPEN is the leading payment card issuer for small businesses in the United States and supports business owners with products and services to help them run and grow their businesses. This includes business charge and credit cards that deliver purchasing power, flexibility, rewards, savings on business services from an expanded lineup of partners and online tools and services designed to help improve profitability. Learn more at www.OPEN.com and connect with us at openforum.com, facebook.com/Open, facebook.com/SmallBusinessSaturday, twitter.com/OPENForum, twitter.com/shopsmall and linkedin.com/company/american_express_open.

American Express is a global services company, providing customers with access to products, insights and experiences that enrich lives and build business success. Learn more at americanexpress.com.

National Contact:
American Express OPEN
Scott Krugman, 212-640-3244
Director of Public Affairs
scott.b.krugman@aexp.com
or
M Booth & Associates
for American Express OPEN
Moon Kim, 212-539-3285
moonk@mbooth.com

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