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AWA Member Support: Small Business Advocacy

Mar 6, 2024

How is AWA supporting small business advocacy?

Affiliated Workers Association was born of a need to support small businesses in growth. Since 2001, we have been empowering small business owners, self-employed individuals, independent contractors, and entrepreneurs across the country. We use our relationships to find the best resources for our members and to advocate for the voices of small business owners.

As small business advocates, we are proud to be strategic partners with two national advocacy groups, Small Business Majority (SBM) and the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council (SBE Council). These partnerships allow us to provide small business advocacy opportunities, support our members in business success, and provide up-to-date information on pertinent business topics.

What is small business advocacy?

Small business advocacy can simply be described as the amplification of the entrepreneurial voice. Promoting the unique experiences of small business owners to the public, media, and government can help generate a future of success and sustainability for our nation’s entrepreneurs.

What do small business advocates do?

Small business advocates support entrepreneurs in navigating present challenges and ensuring economic success. Small business advocacy initiatives are especially needed for minority, women, and rural business owners who face even greater obstacles in accessing resources and benefits.

What challenges do small business advocates address?

Small business owners face a unique set of challenges in launching, running, and growing their enterprises. These challenges include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • Obtaining adequate and affordable healthcare
  • Accessing capital from financial institutions
  • Ensuring family and childcare benefits
  • Understanding tax policies
  • Navigating supply chain and infrastructure barriers
  • Competing in an inequitable economy

The Affiliated Workers Association is made up of a national network of small business owners, and we are aware of the obstacles our members face. Through our partnerships, we champion small business advocacy for each and every one of our members.

How does AWA’s small business advocacy partnership with SBM support members?

Our partner, the Small Business Majority, is a small business advocacy organization that supports entrepreneurs across the country. With over 85,000 small businesses and 1,500 business and community organizations taking part, Small Business Majority can tap into their network to champion opportunities for a more successful entrepreneurial environment. Their three initiatives include:

Small Business Advocacy Education

The Small Business Majority offers programs and resources to educate small business owners, entrepreneurs, and even employees. Small business owners can learn more about maximizing growth opportunities through tools such as Venturize, an on-demand resource hub and in-person and virtual webinars.

Small Business Advocacy in Public Policy

The Small Business Majority represents a diverse network of small business owners and entrepreneurs. Because of this representation, they draft and advocate for policies that benefit the whole of their small business community. This includes advocating for access to capital, quality healthcare and benefits, and fair competition.

Small Business Advocacy Research

To support small business advocacy education and public policy, the Small Business Majority conducts research to gather insights. Through this research, they are able to gain a deeper awareness of the challenges and opportunities present in the lives of small business owners. To amplify the voices of underserved communities, the Small Business Majority ensures that this research uncovers the experiences of minority, women, and rural business owners.

What is the small business advocacy agenda of the Small Business Majority?

The Small Business Majority knows the unique challenges that small business owners face. To support better conditions for entrepreneurs, they advocate for small businesses by introducing public policy recommendations at the federal level. Read more about their focused policy initiatives below.

Small Business Advocacy in Accessing Capital

Women, people of color, rural, and under-resourced business owners and entrepreneurs face significant challenges in obtaining capital. Even more, the COVID-19 pandemic worsened these obstacles for small business owners. You can learn more about their public policy recommendations here.

Small Business Advocacy for Health Care Reform

Small business owners have long faced obstacles in obtaining quality health care for themselves and their employees – thus holding a large number of uninsured workers. The Affordable Care Act, however, changed this landscape. To protect this access, the Small Business Majority is working tirelessly to expand healthcare coverage.

Small Business Advocacy for Essential Benefits

Small business owners and employees often do not have the same access to high quality benefits as those within larger corporations. Further, the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated widespread inequities that affect how people thrive in their work and personal lives. Read more about how the Small Business Majority is working to ensure these benefits for small businesses.

Small Business Advocacy for Entrepreneurs of Color

According to the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, over 8 million businesses are ran by entrepreneurs of color. However, people of color continue to face challenges in accessing capital, mentorship, and benefits. Through small business advocacy for people of color, the Small Business Majority has introduced recommendations to reduce barriers.

Small Business Advocacy for Women Entrepreneurs

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 12 million businesses in the United States are ran by women entrepreneurs. However, women entrepreneurs face setbacks such as lower access to capital, tax code inequalities, out-of-reach healthcare, and expensive child and family care. The Small Business Majority is an advocate for women entrepreneurs, introducing public policy to support their unique challenges.

Small Business Advocacy for Rural Entrepreneurs

For rural communities, small businesses are drivers of job creation and economic success. However, according to the National Community Reinvestment Coalition, there has been a 31% decline in small banks that are usually present in rural communities. To advocate for rural business owners, the SBM has introduced recommendations that will help supply funding.

To learn more about other policy recommendations the Small Business Majority is introducing to advocate for small businesses, visit their website.

How does AWA’s small business advocacy partnership with SBE Council support members?

Similar to the Small Business Majority, the Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council is a small business advocate. They promote the success of small businesses and entrepreneurs by championing public policy. The SBE Council network includes over 100,000 members, including small business owners, entrepreneurs, state and local business organizations, corporate partners, and associations. Like the Small Business Majority, they have three key initiatives to support small business advocacy.

Small Business Advocacy through Public Policy

The SBE Council works at the federal level to enact programs that support small businesses. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they helped to influence the PPP and EIDL programs. They have also been critical in allowing entrepreneurs to raise capital using equity and debt-based crowdfunding. Learn more about their legislative efforts, including their Letters to Congress and Comments on Rules and Regulations.

Small Business Advocacy through Educational Resources

Small business owners can access educational opportunities through the SBE Council, including training, up-to-date content, and webinars. SBE Council provides their latest educational resources via their weekly e-newsletter.

Small Business Advocacy through Research

To track entrepreneurial sentiment in areas such as technology, taxes, financing, and more, the SBE Council regularly conducts surveys. Information collected through SBE Council’s research is presented in their publication “Entrepreneurs and the Economy” and is often used to advance their small business advocacy initiatives. By educating various audiences on the impact of small business owners, SBE Council can further drive the success of public policy efforts.

How can AWA members get involved in small business advocacy?

Monthly Chamber Chatter Conference Calls

Affiliated Workers Association members can get involved in small business advocacy by joining the Small Business Majority’s monthly government conference calls. On these calls, members can voice their experiences regarding current small business issues and get answers on their most pertinent questions. Keep an eye out for Affiliated Workers Association newsletters which provide information on how to register for these monthly conference calls.

AWA Newsletters

Affiliated Workers Associate newsletters contain important information and resources regarding small business advocacy topics. These topics include but are not limited to business, finance, wellness, lifestyle, nutrition, philanthropy, and more. These newsletters also include small business advocacy opportunities, including information on upcoming conference call, webinar, and event registration.

Webinars and Events

Affiliated Workers Association members have access to the in-person and virtual events held by the Small Business Majority. These events are relevant to a wide range of business owners and entrepreneurs, no matter your industry, business size, or location. These events are powerful small business advocacy opportunities, as they support knowledge sharing, networking, and education for entrepreneurs. To view upcoming in-person and virtual events, visit the Small Business Majority events page.

SBE Council also offers regular podcast and programs aimed at providing a deeper look at current events affecting entrepreneurs. These events are free to attend virtually and are advertised monthly in the SBE Council e-newsletter.

On-Demand Resources

The Small Business Majority houses up-to-date recordings of webinars that educate small business owners on a variety of topics. Examples of these topics include the following:

  • Digital Marketing for Small Business Owners
  • Procurement and Contracting Opportunities for Black-Owned Businesses
  • Building Your Business Plan and Tools for Success

The Small Business and Entrepreneurship Council also offers Business Success Strategies to support entrepreneurs. These include tips for launching a new business, developing winning marketing plans, navigating the metaverse, and developing a small business retirement plan.

Small business owners can benefit from these resources, leveraging the valuable information for planning and marketing efforts. These on-demand webinars and strategies are up to date, providing solutions for small business owners in a rapidly changing world.

What are AWA’s current small business advocacy efforts?

Recent economic pressures in our country have affected small business owners especially hard. Small business owners, entrepreneurs, and their employees have been resilient in our current climate. To support our members, the Affiliated Workers Association not only ensures access to benefits in this challenging time, but also supports in small business advocacy.

How we’re improving access to healthcare

Knowing that affordable and adequate health care coverage is a barrier for many small business owners, we recently introduced a new membership level called AdvancedHealth. This level provides access to group fixed indemnity limited medical insurance benefits through an B+-rated carrier, Unified Life Insurance Company. This membership also provides discounts and savings through Business AdvantEdge to help small business owners save money on the costs of running a business.

How we’re ensuring access to other valuable resources

Through a new partnership with Embrace Pet Insurance, AWA members can now access discounted rates on pet insurance. This policy covers accidents and illness, as well as wellness and preventive needs for our furry friends. We are also providing access to special savings on auto and home needs through our longtime partner, Farmers Group Select.

How we’re advocating for small businesses on Capitol Hill

Our partners, the Small Business Majority and Small Business Entrepreneurship Council, work hard on behalf of our members. They introduce legislation on Capitol Hill to ensure small businesses thrive in our current economic climate. Our partners are actively involved in small business advocacy, and we provide our members with access to these partners.

We encourage our members to leverage our partnerships, share their voices and experiences, and advocate for the small business community. Together, we can ensure a thriving, equitable, and sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem.