"If we didn't have all of us working together, we never would have had the WOSB program at all. We would never have won the challenge to have the caps (on contracts to women-owned businesses) removed," Kasoff says.

Kasoff had already been a business owner when she founded WIPP in 2001. She had owned 11 Voice-Tel franchises, which supplied voice messaging services, in Michigan and also owned Voice Response Corp., which provided call center services as well as voice messaging. She sold the businesses by 1999, and continued working for Voice Response until 2002.

Even with her success, Kasoff had questions about what the government could do to help her as a woman business owner. And she didn't feel that her opinions were being heard in Washington.

"I was a business owner and I didn't see that I had a voice," she says. "I looked around and I didn't see that anyone could help me."

So she did what she now urges other businesswomen to do â¿¿ she got involved.

Kasoff spoke recent with The Associated Press about the issues that women business owners face. Here are excerpts of the interview, edited for clarity and brevity:

Q. What led you to found WIPP?

A. As a business owner, I networked, I did all the things that business owners do â¿¿ be grouchy, complain. How am I going to get the answers? How do some people get the government contracts? How come some business owners are always in the front pages of the newspaper? Who's representing me as a woman business owner? That's when I jumped in, got a group of people together, said, this is my idea, and they said, we'll support you. I surprisingly got bought out (of my business), and so I started doing this full-time.

Q. What challenges do you still face in getting more contracts for women-owned businesses?

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