About NAWBO Greater DC

We are unapologetic about promoting and advocating for women business owners and their entrepreneurial interests.

It’s in our DNA.

NAWBO was founded in 1975 in Washington DC when a group of women business owners were looking to grow their businesses. They were turned down for membership by the local Chamber of Commerce and Rotary club, who said “no women allowed”. These women started their own organization – the Association of Women Business Owners.

Help Me Grow As a Business Owner

The reason I joined the NAWBO Greater DC Board as Secretary was because I wanted the opportunity to get to know some of the members more deeply than I was able to through simply attending the lunch and learns each month. What I didn’t think about at the time was how much being a part of the Board would help me grow as a business owner. Being involved in discussions and planning for the chapter has opened my eyes to different perspectives and ideas that I would never have been exposed to otherwise. I am grateful to be a part of the Board and to call my fellow Board members friends as well as NAWBO sisters!

Melissa Henry
Melissa Demple Photography

Within a year they were getting calls from women across the country who wanted a chapter in their city, so they changed the name to the National Association of Women Business Owners and started growing like crazy.

In the mid ‘80s, NAWBO leaders realized that to truly affect change for women business owners, they had to get involved in advocacy for changes in public policy. In 1988, they spearheaded the effort to pass HR5050 – the Women’s Business Ownership Act, which made it illegal for banks to require a male cosigner for a business loan, established the Women’s Business Center program under the Small Business Administration (“SBA), and required the Census to count women-owned businesses, which they previously had not been doing.

For decades, the NAWBO Greater DC chapter (also NAWBO’s inaugural chapter) has offered women business owners educational programing that enriches mindsets, events that inspire, advocacy that propels systemic change, and a sisterhood that supports and nurtures our members to become better, sharper and more successful business leaders.

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