October is National Women’s Small Business Month, and the U.S. Small Business Administration is highlighting the programs they offer in support of women in business. Reports by the National Association of Women’s Business Owners state that women-owned businesses are the fastest growing sector of the economy, with 9.9 million in the United States currently employing over 8 million workers and contributing over 1.4 trillion dollars in sales to the U.S. economy. Impressive facts and figures aside, the SBA is still determined to encourage women entrepreneurs through its “three C’s”- Capital, Contracts, and Counseling. Through capital, SBA’s lending partners provide loans to small businesses that may not qualify for loans elsewhere. Women tend to start with less capital than men because research shows women finance through personal savings and credit cards, while men often opt for loans. Businesses with more capital tend to have higher sales and employ more people, and the SBA offers a Lender Match Tool in addition to a small loan program to help women start their business in the best position possible. SBA trains entrepreneurs how complete contacts with the federal government. The Federal government is the largest purchaser of goods and services, and SBA’s goal is that 5 percent of contacts are with women-owned small businesses. Events targeting both the federal and private procurement matches the two. Maybe the most useful tool, the counseling through SBA has helped women increase their self-sufficiency and their confidence, with 47% receiving training that assisted them to open their business. The SBA has 68 district offices and resource partners in communities across the country, among them the Women’s Business Centers. DreamBuilder introduces participants to all areas of business ownership through a carefully crafted and engaging curriculum, featured in English and Spanish. At the conclusion of the program, women leave with a business plan to start their own business or develop an existing one. Learn about these and other women-owned business programs and resources here.