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SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman plans to elevate the Office of Women's Business Ownership

Updated: Jan 14

By Alexandria Berry

According to a press release, U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman intends to elevate its Office of Women’s Business Ownership (OWBO). Since Guzman has been administrator, the number of Women’s Business Centers have grown to 140 locations nationwide. These centers offer free to low-cost counseling, training, business development, technical assistance, and guidance for upcoming women entrepreneurs.

The Office of Women’s Business Ownership was established by order in 1979, and its hallmark remains to empower women entrepreneurship, “the fastest growing and one of the most impactful segments of the business community,” said Administrator Guzman in the press release. The rapid growth in women’s small, owned businesses are growing. However, the rapid growth does not negate the societal, economical, and COVID related barriers.

Courtesy photo of SBA Administrator Isabella Casillas Guzman

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the reported health of women owned businesses fell 13 points, "60 percent to 47 percent from January to mid year of 2020" due to the impact of COVID-19. Women-owned businesses were hit the hardest by the unprecedented Coronavirus, which has added a new layer to the scuffle between women owned businesses and their move toward equality in the mainstream world of business.

The acknowledgement by the Biden-Harris Administration puts new and stronger strides in the dialogue around women entrepreneurship.

The announcement of the first-ever National Strategy on Gender Equity and Equality sparks an anticipated fire under the movement towards the recovery done by COVID-19. “The elevation of the Office of Women’s Business Ownership, when implemented, will align with this priority and our commitment to the enduring success of the Women’s Business Center Network,” said Mark Madrid, associate administrator of the SBA Office of Entrepreneurial Development. The public and unofficial endorsement by the White House and official endorsement by the SBA may have given OWBO the access to the road that leads straight to their goal.

The force behind the voices of so many powerful leaders leave a promising tone that lingers in the hopes of many women business owners who can count on the support of the government and their community.

“It is an honor to lead OWBO during this historical time of entrepreneurial growth for women and when supporting them through recovery and ensuring that women small businesses are positioned for the future is so imperative, “ said Natalie Madeira Cofield, assistant administrator, Office of Women’s Business Ownership - U.S. Small Business Administration. “I look forward to working directly with Administrator Guzman to keep the concerns of women, especially those from underserved and disadvantaged communities, at the forefront of SBA’s executive leadership, initiatives, and programming, and I am grateful for her championship of this fast-growing and critical segment of American small businesses.”

In Tennessee, there are two Women’s Business Centers.

Vonesha Mitchell serves as the executive director for the Women's Business Center - South located in Memphis, Tenn.

Vonesha Mitchell|Photo Credit: Paula Anderson

“Since the opening of the Women’s Business Center South in July of 2021, just 6 months ago, we have 290 requests for support from women business owners. Just knowing these businesses are out there and need our help, shapes the tools and resources available to them," said Mitchell.

Pathway Lending Women’s Business Center (WBC) located in Nashville, Tenn. serves women entrepreneurs throughout Tenn.

To learn more about these WBCs, visit and

Alexandria (Kourtney) Berry is a graduate student at the University of Memphis. She is majoring in Journalism and Strategic Media.

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