Ranking Member Ernst Works to Overhaul, Refocus Failing SBA Entrepreneurship Program
The Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) program, one of the Small Business Administration’s (SBA) core entrepreneurial development programs, has been plagued by poor performance, waste, and ongoing failures to reach women-owned entrepreneurs and small businesses in rural America.
Today, U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Ranking Member of the Senate Small Business Committee, announced her effort with Senator Todd Young (R-Ind.) to overhaul SCORE to meet the needs of today’s dynamic economy and improve support for female and rural business owners.
“Like many government efforts, SBA’s SCORE mentorship program is a well-intentioned idea with poor payout and performance. Simply put, we need SCORE to do MORE for our female and rural entrepreneurs as they face rising inflation and other challenges in Biden’s economy,” said Senator Ernst. “Revamping this program to be more efficient and effective through improved services will support job growth, boost our local communities, and help more entrepreneurs achieve their dream.”
“Our bill will bring the SCORE program into the modern era of entrepreneurship, enhancing the essential role of mentorship by revamping it as focused, certified coaching,” said Senator Young. “By ensuring continuous improvements in performance, we can open up new opportunities for rural and urban communities alike, solidifying SCORE’s role as America’s leading incubator for business mentorship and innovation.”
The SCORE Act of 2023 revamps SCORE by:
- Amending the acronym of the current Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE) program, and replacing it with Supporting Coaching Opportunities for Resilient Entrepreneurs (SCORE);
- Retooling mentors as coaches and establishing a coaching certification program, which intends to ensure that all coaches participating in SCORE have an up-to-date knowledge of modern business practices and e-commerce;
- Expanding online counseling services, including webinars and online toolkits to support entrepreneurs;
- Ensuring coaches and employees undergo annual performance reviews, with action required in the event they fail to meet performance standards;
- Requiring the current SCORE cooperative agreement to be recompeted every five years to ensure the contract awardee is an organization well equipped to provide fundamental, modern, and relevant business training to individuals in both rural and urban areas;
- Forming the National Women’s Business Coaches (NWBC), which would oversee a “Coach-Match Program” to pair individuals with appropriate SCORE coaches through online and in-person events;
- Examining how well SCORE is serving rural communities through a GAO study to identify rural SCORE chapters and to examine the efficacy of performance standards;
- Serving to diversify the SCORE program by recruiting women business leaders to join SCORE as coaches;
- and, Sunsetting the SCORE program four years after enactment, subjecting it to reauthorization thereafter.