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Through a variety of business and philanthropic initiatives, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation seek to empower small producers – many of them women – around the world. For example, Walmart’s purchase orders can support economic development in agriculture or manufacturing, while also diversifying and strengthening our global supply chain. Philanthropic investments in training programs and access to services can enhance the scale, scope and skill of small businesses, helping to alleviate poverty, while strengthening the resilience of the consumer and supplier base for retail in general across markets.

Recently, we engaged The William Davidson Institute at the University of Michigan, who worked with Oxford University Consulting to analyze our engagement with small producers in developing countries. The researchers focused on two types of initiatives: first, our efforts to incorporate smallholder farmers into Walmart’s agricultural supply chain over the past decade; and second, Empowering Women Together, a platform designed to help very small artisanal producers sell their handicrafts via Walmart.com . The Empowering Women Together platform has been one part of our Women’s Economic Empowerment initiative, which includes sourcing over $20 billion from women-owned businesses and training 1 million women in retail supply chains around the world.

The resulting report provides recommendations to retailers and others who would like to similarly use their purchase orders and philanthropy to elevate small producers. For example:

  1. Retailers should assess the feasibility of sourcing from particular producers using criteria including the capabilities of the supplier organization, nature of the product, market characteristics, and the state of the surrounding market ecosystem. The researchers identified 18 specific factors that influence the success of initiatives involving sourcing from small producers.
  2. Organizations interested in accelerating economic development in a particular region or category should engage stakeholders including retailers, governments, and civil society to build an enabling environment for small suppliers to succeed. The report describes in more detail when and how to do this.

We look forward to sharing additional information over the next year, as we draw near the end of our Women’s Economic Empowerment initiative and deliver on our $20 billion sourcing commitment and our 1 million women training commitment. Stay tuned for more news about that, and what we have planned for the next five years to help empower women and other underserved populations around the world.

Click here to access the full report.

Originally posted on Women Presidents' Organization by Women Presidents' Organization.

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