By Rieva Lesonsky

Since October is Women’s Small Business Month, I can’t think of a more fitting time for the Small Business Administration (SBA) and Count Me In to launch their new cooperative Strategic Alliance. Together the SBA and Count Me In (CMI) will focus on (one of my pet causes) strengthening and expanding small business opportunities for women through education, training and counseling.

As part of the initiative there’ll be joint podcasts on business startup and financing, and Web chats on the many issues that affect us women business owners.

The kickoff took place in Washington, DC with remarks from SBA Administrator Karen G. Mills, Count Me In president and CEO Nell Merlino, and Pauline Lewis, owner of oovoo design, a past winner of CMI’s Make Mine a Million $ Business Award which encourages women entrepreneurs to increase their revenues and develop their businesses.

I’ve judged several Make Mine a Million contests and I was blown away by more than a few of the entrepreneurs and their ideas. There were times I was moved to tears by the dedication of these women, who put so much into their businesses. When you’re working so hard, you sometimes forget there are people, organizations and yes, government agencies out there who want to help succeed. Thanks to Administrator Mills and Nell Merlino (who, not coincidentally, are amazing entrepreneurial women) for giving us women business owners so much support.

About Count Me In: Count Me In for Women’s Economic Independence is the leading national not-for-profit provider of resources, business education and community support for women entrepreneurs seeking to grow micro businesses to million dollar enterprises. Go to for more information.

For more information on how SBA can help you start or grow your business,