WHY YOU NEED TO KNOW HER: Because as chair-elect of the National Association of Women Business Owners, Beggs will lead an organization that represents 6,500 female-led companies. Among the organization’s major initiatives: equal opportunities for women business owners when it comes to getting federal contracts.  Women-owned companies are nearly at the bottom of the list when it comes to awarding “set-asides”—contracts specifically set aside by law to be awarded to specific groups, says Beggs, owner of Abba Staffing and Consulting LLC. “Women-owned businesses come behind almost every other group. We’d like to have an equal opportunity.”

Congressional legislation has mandated that 5 percent of federal contract dollars go to women-owned enterprises, but, NAWBO says, that amount averages just 3.4 percent.“In Texas, we are going to try to engage with women who are former legislators who can help us work toward achieving our goal of 5 percent,” Beggs says. 

There is much at stake. According to NAWBO, falling short of that goal costs women business owners an average of $5 billion in lost contracts each year. Another big focus for the group going forward: supporting the international expansion of member businesses. That means providing education and tools on everything from international banking to global differences in business contracts, Beggs says. 

She will assume national leadership of the organization, which was founded in 1975, next year. “We are the most seasoned, nonpartisan nonprofit organization working exclusively for women business owners,” she says. “These women play such an important role in growing our economy.”

Beggs bought her company, which provides staffing and consulting services for Fortune 500 companies, as well as small businesses, in 2006. A year later she joined NAWBO, and says it has provided invaluable support. 

For example, a few years back, Beggs attended a NAWBO program about collecting bad debts. “It really was not an issue for my company at the time, but I took notes.” She used those pointers when one of Abba’s largest clients later filed for bankruptcy. “We were able to collect 80 percent of what they owed us,” Beggs says.