Governor signs bill supporting women-owned businesses

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero (PNC photo)

Governor Lou Leon Guerrero has signed into law Bill 71 — also known as the “Support for Women-Owned Businesses Act” — which aims to adopt a procurement policy that favors women-owned businesses.

The bill gives a 5% procurement advantage to women-owned small businesses that are SBA-certified.

That means that if a woman-owned business submits a bid for a GovGuam procurement contract and it can provide the supply or service at no more than 105% of the lowest bidder’s price, then as long as it meets all other requirements, the woman-owned business will be selected.

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“Our mission in the Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce when we established it as a founding member was to create equity among all business partners and the business community to of course, significantly include women in that. So the set aside is going to reach that mission. I think it’s a strategy that is not unfamiliar in other places,” Leon Guerrero said in an interview with NewsTalk K57.

Jayne Flores, the director of the Bureau of Women’s Affairs, said the legislation was modeled on a law to help disabled veterans who own small businesses on Guam.

According to the bill, a firm will qualify if it meets five criteria:

It’s licensed to do business on Guam

It maintains its headquarters on Guam.

It’s at least 51% owned by women.

The Small Business Administration has certified it as a Women-Owned Small Business or an Economically Disadvantaged Women-Owned Small Business.

And the owner has filed individual tax returns on Guam for at least 3 consecutive years.

According to the bill, a review of data from the 2017 Economic Census of Guam…showed that women-owned businesses have been at a distinct disadvantage in Guam’s economy.

The governor said that this bill is especially important given the effects of the pandemic on women-owned small businesses.

According to the bill, the legislature found that current research shows the pandemic has taken a higher toll on women-owned businesses.

“It’s a way to help women who are struggling…even more so during this get back on their feet again, and, as you say, most women were affected with this pandemic, because most of the businesses that women own are very much related to social services, like childcare centers, things like that, that did have a significant impact during COVID, the governor said.