National Association of Women Business Owners advocates for policies that help women

ByHeather Grubola WPVI logo
Thursday, April 4, 2024
NAWBO advocates for policies that benefit women

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- It was just 35 years ago that legislation was finally passed to make it legal for women to get business loans without a male co-signer. One of the groups that lobbied hard for that legislation is called NAWBO, the National Association of Women Business Owners. Now, NAWBO is working on other ways to open doors for women.

Michele Schina's business is to help other businesses grow and thrive. Schina began her career as an auditor for multinational accounting behemoth KPMG.

"I saw the success of companies when I worked at KPMG. And my commitment was to bring that level of knowledge to women business owners so that they can really advance their companies more quickly," said Schina of Schina and Associates CPA out of Margate, Atlantic County.

RELATED: NAWBO creates sisterhood for women business owners

Women businesses represent close to 40% of businesses across the country and contribute $2.7 trillion to the GDP.

"And they employ over 12 million workers. And so we're, we've made a big dent."

Much of that is thanks to HR 5050, which was signed into law in 1988. Before that legislation:

"In order for a woman to get a business loan, either her husband, or another male in her family had to sign for that loan."

HR 5050 allowed women to effectively operate and scale their businesses. NAWBO, which is celebrating its 50 anniversary this year, was instrumental in getting it passed.

"Women running their businesses are just different. You know, there's a care aspect to it," said Dr. Jan Shinkawa of Ohana Pet Hospital.

Shinkawa is NAWBO's incoming president and owns four veterinary hospitals in California.

"We started off really focusing on the care of our employees. And what that's done for us is have a really high retention rate. I have employees that are still with us from the time that we opened."

That was 11 years ago. Now, through NAWBO, Dr. Shinkawa and Schina are working on a new advocacy agenda.

"We're working on a definition from micro business, which is something we're going at the federal level," she said. "So that business owners can have access to capital more readily."

Currently small businesses are defined as having fewer than 500 employees, but many businesses are much smaller with fewer than 50 employees. The hope is by defining those micro-businesses, it will open avenues for funding and access to capital.

The local NAWBO chapter is marking its 40th year and focusing on the next generation of women business owners.