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.
“History shows us that supporting our community means supporting our women. This Bill is a step in the right direction to reflect our island's progress in women empowerment and to ensure an equitable business environment for all.”
According to the measure, eligible businesses must meet the following criteria:
· Licensed to do business and located on Guam;
· At least 51 percent owned by women;
· Certified as a Woman-Owned Small Business or an Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business by the U.S. Small Business Administration; and
· Owned by individuals who have filed tax returns on Guam for at least three consecutive years.