Last Monday, I headed over to the State Department building to check out an event co-sponsored by Women Impacting Public Policy (WIPP) and American Express OPEN, the Give Me 5 Women Owned Small Business Opportunity Forum. The forum focused on helping women owned small businesses (WOSB) achieve 5% of government contracts, and had a plethora of useful advice.
The panel, which consisted of Mauricio Vera of USAID, Mark Oliver of the Department of the Interior, Sharon Davis, from the Department of Homeland Security, and Joseph McDade of the US Air Force, was very informative, and I learned a lot as someone who knew little of contract acquisitions. The panelists had good news about their agencies efforts to increase their small business contracts. USAID doubled its small business goal and met its WOSB goal at 8.5%, the Interior doubled its WOSB goal the past 6 years running, DHS holds monthly trainings on acquiring government contracts, and the USAF is looking to increase the dollar amount of contracts to small businesses despite budget cuts.
The best piece of advice given during the session is that its imperative for a small businesses capabilities statement to be well-tailored to the agency that is being targeted. The Department of the Interior has far different needs than the EPA, so its important to keep that in mind when writing a statement.
I also had the opportunity to speak with Alex Ytuarte from American Express OPEN who gave me information about what the Give Me 5 program is doing to help WOSB’s. The program gives women access to live events (such as the opportunity forum), webinars, Giveme5.com, free mentorship, and guides. When I asked her how effective the program is, she told me over half a million women have been reached thus far, with a focus on having women register on the Central Contract Registry so they are contract ready. Not only was the Opportunity Forum a great chance to network with agencies seeking contracts, but six came contracts in-hand.
American Express OPEN will be hosting another event on June 15th, which is the Victory in Procurement event and is not exclusive to women owned small-businesses, but for small businesses in general. Registration is already live, and the event is free, so f you’d like assistance acquiring government contracts, I recommend checking it out here.