The Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce, the island’s newest business network, will celebrate its 8th anniversary this fall.
Members of the group are mostly small businesses, chamber president Laura Nelson Cepeda said, noting that most businesses in Guam are considered small under federal guidelines because they have fewer than 500 employees.
âWe have a lot of men, in fact, in the Women’s House. One of our biggest sponsors is Sonny Ada. He is a strong supporter of the Guam Women’s House, âCepeda said.
One of the chamber’s goals, to give women a head start in competing for local government contracts, could be approved during this month’s legislative session. Bill 71, by Senator Amanda Shelton, was briefly debated Friday, with no lawmakers speaking out against it. This would allow women-owned businesses to win contracts, provided their bid is no more than 5% higher than the lowest bid. If passed, the bill will land on the desk of Governor Lou Leon Guerrero, one of the founding members of the chamber.
âThe women’s layaway bill, which is a priority for many of us, to give women a level playing field in business,â Cepeda said. âWe’re really excited about it. This will be an important step for our room and the women of the island. This is something that will impress itself in our community and that women can benefit from in the long run.
Cepeda said the chamber’s mission is to advance women in business, “by any means necessary.”
âLegislation is probably the most effective way to influence the business world to enable women to enjoy a level playing field,â she said.
âNot only did we want to take a stand on women-owned affairs, but also to have a voice on issues important to all businesses and the community,â said chamber vice president Bernie Valencia, managing director of Matson. “Our partnership with the (Guam Chamber of Commerce), GHRA, the Guam Real Estate Association and other organizations continues to evolve and grow stronger.”
In addition to the chamber’s lobbying role for women in business, âour mission is to advance women in business through advocacy, networking, mentoring and access to resources,â Cepeda said.
âWith this pandemic, it has been difficult for women in the workplace and businesswomen to navigate the new normal of taking care of their families and businesses,â Cepeda said. ended up playing, and for single moms it’s even a little harder.
One of its related projects, the Women’s Business Center, is slated to open this month in HagÃ¥tÃ±a. The center, which will also serve as the organization’s headquarters, will host board meetings, workshops, mentoring and networking events.
The center will provide:
- A common workspace;
- a printer / copier;
- a private room for consultation sessions and interviews;
- a multipurpose room, which can accommodate up to 30 people, with access to presentation materials; and
- a networking space for 50 people.
The chamber also received a grant from the Guam Economic Development Authority, to help women create a business plan and start a business.
Valencia said: âIn 2020, the GWCC has been very active in communicating COVID-19 related announcements to the community and how to participate in the different programs available. Many companies and non-members have praised our efforts and have called the GWCC their ‘go-to organization for reliable information in 2020.’
Earlier this year, the chamber held its annual leadership summit, Fanachu Famalao’an, or âWomen Risingâ.
âIt was a big success,â Cepeda said. It included world-renowned lecturers and master classes in business. âI think our Leadership Summit is extremely valuable to our members, and many non-members attended, as it’s something of a high level that I haven’t seen in Guam right now.â
âWe have our mentorship program. We have industry advisors who are members, âCepeda said. âWe have been very loud, since last year, in the reopening and recovery of our economy and our island. Some of our board members are on the recovery task force that the governor established, and we have been very important in working with GHRA, House of Guam, GVB and others. local agencies and organizations on the island to help them spread. awareness, education and storytelling to help bring businesses back to light and revive our economy. “
- The Guam Women’s Chamber of Commerce will begin a monthly column in the Opinion section of the Pacific Daily News. The column will be launched on Thursday.