Women-Owned Businesses: A Driving Force in the U.S. Economy
with Candace Waterman of Women Impacting Public Policy
Editor’s note: This interview was recorded in March 2023, prior to Candace Waterman’s sudden passing on May 19, 2023. We mourn her loss and celebrate her legacy.
In 2022, women-owned businesses accounted for nearly half of all new U.S. businesses for a third consecutive year. The late Candace Waterman of Women Impacting Public Policy discusses ways that women-owned businesses are navigating the post-pandemic economy.
July 31, 2023
Anderson: More than one-third of small businesses in America are women-owned. A key driver of the U.S. economy, these businesses continue to contend with supply-chain issues and inflation post-pandemic. Hello and welcome to "Comcast Newsmakers." I'm Tetiana Anderson. How are women-owned businesses navigating the road to recovery in the post-pandemic economy? Joining me to talk all about this is Candace Waterman, President and CEO of WIPP -- that's Women Impacting Public Policy. And, Candace, thank you so much for being here.
Waterman: Thank you for having me.
Anderson: So how are women-owned businesses doing at this point, and are they where you would expect them to be post-pandemic emergency?
Waterman: I would say they're doing okay. They are not where I would expect them to be post-pandemic because of the number of businesses that closed during pandemic. So you have to try to make that up, and it's difficult. However, they are showing resiliency and grit in the face of these hardships, of having issues with access to capital and access to contracts.
Anderson: So we know that these businesses are facing challenges because of inflation, the supply chain. Why are these businesses so impacted by this, and what other challenges do they have?
Waterman: The playing field is just not level for women in business in the country, though there are some programs that are trying to level that playing field. And two of the major issues now are absolutely access to capital and access to contracts. And those two issues are not mutually exclusive.
Anderson: What would you say real resilience looks like for these women-owned businesses, and what sort of resources is your organization providing so they can achieve that?
Waterman: Stick-to-it-iveness, if that's a word. Right? They have to just stick to it and really ensure that they're digging deep, they're course modifying where they may need to, in terms of their offerings for goods and services. And some of the programs that we offer certainly are our ChallengeHER program, our PRO Table Talk, where we provide information and resources to really grow and expand in government contracting.
Anderson: So the Biden administration has passed the Infrastructure and Jobs Act, the CHIPS and Science Act, all of that to aid businesses. How important are measures like that, specifically for women-owned businesses?
Waterman: It's huge. We are in a historical time for businesses in this country, particularly for women-owned businesses. They have opportunities that they would not have had before, particularly at the state level instead of the federal level.
Anderson: So I'm wondering if there is an example of a woman-owned business that you can share that you really helped change the game for through your resources.
Waterman: We have many of our women-owned businesses, I think, that we've helped change the game for, and particularly those who are in the services industries, because that's a hard industry to be in. And so we have some of our board members who absolutely have been able to, I would think, grow during this slower time, if you will.
Anderson: So I know you have a whole host of programs that help these businesses. They deal with everything from business and mental health to federal contracting. But I want to ask you specifically about the NEXTUp program. Why did you develop that, and why is that so important for the future of the women that you are working with?
Waterman: For just that reason -- the future of the women that we're working with. And NEXTUp is a program that is really geared towards the next generation of political and policy leader and the next generation of entrepreneurs. We want to ensure we have that pipeline and that we are providing them with absolutely the resources that they need to not just grow, but sustain.
Anderson: Speaking of resources, I know people are going to want to know more about what you do. So what is your website? Where can they go?
Waterman: They can go to WIPP.org. That is W-I-P-P.org.
Anderson: Candace Waterman with Women Impacting Public Policy, thank you for being here.
Waterman: Well, thank you for having me.
Anderson: And thanks to you for watching, as well. As always, for more great conversations with leaders in your own community and across the nation, visit ComcastNewsmakers.com. I'm Tetiana Anderson.