10/11/2012 06:28 pm ET Updated Dec 11, 2012

An Inclusive Vision of Entrepreneurship

Last week, I had the opportunity to speak at the National Association of Women Business Owner's (NAWBO) conference in Louisville. It was a chance to talk about the issues and the opportunities that women business owners and entrepreneurs face as they build innovative and successful companies across the United States.

Forty years ago, women owned just five percent of all small businesses. Today, women own 30 percent, which equals a total of 7.8 million companies generating $1.2 trillion a year in sales.

There are entrepreneurs like Rachel Carson, whose company Helicopter Tech, Inc., is selling aviation products and equipment to over 23 countries. Rachel is using SBA's export loan products to expand her business into lucrative markets around the world. Another example is Ms. Jenny's Pickles in North Carolina. After the market turned, Jenny Fulton partnered with her assistant, Ashlee Furr, to start their pickle business. They worked with an SBA counselor and now their products are sold in grocery stores all over the U.S.

That's what we are focused on across the SBA. Ensuring that more small business owners and entrepreneurs have the access and opportunity they need to turn great business ideas into viable and successful businesses. And we are continuing to look for new ways to support and strengthen women small business owners and entrepreneurs.

Overall, since the president took office, SBA has supported more than $12.4 billion in lending through more than 35,500 SBA loans to women-owned businesses. In addition, we put into place the Women's Contracting Rule, which means that for the first time Federal Agencies can set aside contracting opportunities for women-owned small business in over 300 industries where women are underrepresented.

And as part of National Women's Small Business Ownership Month, which is being celebrated throughout October, the SBA will host a series of webinars to help educate and empower women entrepreneurs and small business owners. These webinars will feature speakers from core SBA programs and information on enhancements to our programs to meet the needs of more women small business owners.

At the SBA, and across the Administration, we believe that entrepreneurs and small business owners are one of our nation's greatest assets.

And we know that when you embrace an inclusive vision of entrepreneurship, one that draws entrepreneurs of all demographics, backgrounds and locations, not only do the businesses they start succeed, America succeeds.