Managing Director of Maryland Women’s Business Center and AWBC Board Member Testifies Before Congress on Impact of Women’s Business Centers Program
Testimony detailed the impact of WBCs and recommendations for program reauthorization
Washington, D.C. – May 1, 2019 – Today, the Managing Director of the Maryland Women’s Business Center (MWBC), Kiesha Haughton, testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Small Business and Entrepreneurship in a hearing on reauthorization of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) entrepreneurial development programs. Ms. Haughton, who is also on the Board of the Association of Women’s Business Centers (AWBC), updated the Committee on the success of the Women’s Business Center (WBC) program in assisting women entrepreneurs through business training, counseling, and access to capital, as well as the efforts of the Maryland WBC to tailor its services to the Maryland small business community. In addition, she presented recommendations for improving the WBC program during reauthorization.
In her testimony, Ms. Haughton detailed the incredible efficacy of the WBC program in supporting the talents of women business owners through their network of 114 centers nationwide. She also highlighted the successful programming offered at the Maryland WBC and urged Congress to modernize WBC program and increase funding levels to individual centers.
Ms. Haughton’s testimony also referenced how MWBC tailors its entrepreneurial education to meet the needs of women business owners by developing classes for every stage of their business life cycle, which include core classes for pre-ventures, intermediate courses for early stage and start-up companies, and more advanced courses like its women’s business leadership program for established growth companies. Much of the programming provided at centers is either free or low-cost.
Finally, Ms. Haughton’s testimony stated the critical importance of raising the cap on individual center grants. This is the first time the WBC program has been reauthorized since the 1990s and it is also the first time that an increase in funding has been proposed. The cap on individual center grants has remained at $150,000 for more than 30 years and it has been recommended to raise that cap to $350,000 in order for centers to reach more women entrepreneurs.
Corinne Hodges, CEO of AWBC, voiced her support of the testimony:
“We are proud to have an AWBC board member testify before Congress on the important role the WBC program plays in growing and supporting the women-owned small business community. As an on-the-ground practitioner in her role as Managing Director of the Maryland WBC, Ms. Haughton is well versed in the day-to-day operations of a women’s business center, and can provide valuable insights to Congress on what is going well with the program and where there are opportunities for improvements. We are thankful to the Senate Committee on Small Business & Entrepreneurship for holding this hearing and we are excited to work together on reauthorization in the upcoming year.”
To date, nearly 20 U.S. Senators have endorsed the WBC reauthorization funding through a letter to Chairman John Kennedy and Ranking Member Christopher Coons of the Subcommittee on Financial Services and General Government. The letter cites the positive impact of WBCs noting they supported 152,000 women entrepreneurs in Fiscal Year 2018 through 100,000 hours of training and counseling. WBCs also helped create 23,000 jobs and 11,687 new businesses in the same time period.
Watch the entire hearing and hear Ms. Haughton’s testimony here.