Bill to prioritize women-owned businesses under procurement process

Sen. Amanda Shelton

On International Women’s Day, Sen. Amanda L. Shelton introduced Bill No. 71-36 (COR), or the “Support for Women-Owned Businesses Act,” to address women’s underrepresentation in our island’s economy.

The measure—co-sponsored by Sens. Telena Cruz Nelson, Tina Rose Muña Barnes, Mary Camacho Torres and Joanne M. Brown—seeks to adopt a policy in favor of Women-Owned Businesses (WOBs) under the government of Guam procurement process.

As long as these businesses adhere to the criteria set forth by the U.S. Small Business Administration or the Guam Economic Development Authority, government entities must procure supplies and services from these businesses, provided the costs incurred are not more than 105 percent of the lowest bidder.

Women-owned businesses have been at a distinct disadvantage in Guam’s economy. A review of data from the 2017 Economic Census of Guam conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau confirms that the percentage of women-owned businesses is only about 17 percent.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the number of WOBs who ranked their business' health as "somewhat or very good" dropped three times more than male-owned companies during the pandemic. Women owners were much less likely to report future success concerning revenue, investments and staffing.

“As we celebrate International Women's Day and Women's History Month, we must also overcome the economic setbacks that have significantly affected our women-owned businesses,” said Senator Shelton, speaking to her colleagues.