Op-Ed: SBA ‘tickled pink’ about women entrepreneurs
For more than two decades now during the month of October, the color pink has been a symbol of awareness, and women and men alike across the world unabashedly wear it in support of breast cancer victims and its survivors.
At the U.S. Small Business Administration, we are tickled pink in October to also be celebrating Women’s Small Business Month, and feel privileged to help empower women and provide them with the tools and resources they need to start, grow and succeed as entrepreneurs.
Throughout history, women have made extraordinary contributions to the economy of our nation, and are responsible for generating millions of jobs and creating products that have lined store shelves and filled most of our homes.
You may be familiar with the name Ruth Handler who, in 1959, gave life to Barbie – a doll that to this day is considered the most valuable toy brand in the world, with sales surpassing $1.6 billion every year. As a matter of fact, a breast cancer survivor herself, Handler underwent a mastectomy in the early 70s, which prompted her to design a line of comfortable breast prosthesis called “Nearly Me,” still known to distribute post-mastectomy replacements worldwide.
Handler was a savvy entrepreneur whose contributions to the fields of marketing, manufacturing and science technology were outstanding. And, while her story may have already been told thousands of times before, there are just as many out there waiting to be heard.
Among other programs and services, the SBA provides women with business consultation and training, assistance with start-up or expansion, access to capital, and identification of international trade and government procurement opportunities.
In 1979, in response to an executive order, the agency established the Office of Women’s Business Ownership to foster the participation of women entrepreneurs in the economy, especially those who have been historically under-served or excluded. The OWBO reaches out to women entrepreneurs through a number of programs that are coordinated through every SBA district office and with the support of Women’s Business Centers throughout the country.
In Puerto Rico, we have assisted a great number of successful women entrepreneurs achieve their small business goals, such as Nereida Williams, owner of Spicy Caribbee in Old San Juan; Enid Santiago, who provides home infusion services to the chronically ill; and Alessandra Correa, president and manufacturer of Mi Madre Pique. More recently, the SBA was pleased to assist Brenda Marrero, president of Marrero & Associates, who has successfully exported professional recruitment services throughout the world with the support of SBA’s Export Express Loan program.
Like Nereida’s, Enid’s, Alessandra’s and Brenda’s, there are many more stories that we can’t wait to share. So as you wear pink over the next few days in support of or tribute to extraordinary women, think also of the great contributions empowered women have made to their communities and the economy all throughout history and to this day, every single day.