BENTONVILLE, Ark.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In advance of National Small Business Week, Sam’s Club and Sam’s Club Giving are announcing their continued commitment to small business owners—especially women, minorities and veterans—with $8.8 million in new grants. These grants have been awarded to organizations dedicated to borrower education initiatives that ease the top barrier to entry for many small businesses, which is access to capital.
Many small business owners have the drive, the ingenuity and the grit to make their business successful, but often access to capital is a barrier to entry. Research published by the Small Business Administration noted the struggle may be compounded for women and minority business owners and that, despite their growing economic significance, women- and minority-owned firms tend to have an inadequate access to capital.
In 2015, Sam’s Club and Sam’s Club Giving announced the Small Business Economic Mobility initiative, a five-year investment in small business growth through increased access to capital and borrower education. The initiative’s first round of grants totaled $13.6 million to eight national nonprofit organizations that provide access to capital and borrower education to underserved U.S. small businesses, including women, minorities and veterans.
Serving small business owners and entrepreneurs as members for 33 years, Sam’s Club launched the philanthropic initiative to respond to the national struggle for small business owners in low-to-moderate income communities to attain affordable loans and navigate the lending process. By bringing together expertise, business initiatives such as the recently announced Business Lending Center and philanthropic investments, Sam’s Club and Sam’s Club Giving are uniquely positioned to help small business owners access affordable capital.
“Sam’s Club has a long history of helping small businesses get access to big business savings, save money and grow their businesses—that’s the reason our founder Sam Walton started Sam’s Club,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, Walmart’s Chief Sustainability Officer and President of the Walmart Foundation, which oversees the Sam’s Club Giving Program. “When small businesses succeed, economic growth and job creation follow, which is why Sam’s Club and Sam’s Club Giving are committed to creating small business prosperity by awarding grants to national nonprofit organizations that help to increase access to capital and better education for underserved business owners across the U.S.”
Highlights from this year’s Small Business Economic Mobility initiative grants include:
|Accion||$3.3 million||Strengthen Accion’s ability nationally to serve small businesses by modernizing and streamlining its national operating model, technology and loan-making process to better meet the demand for credit and capital among underserved business owners, including women, minorities and veterans. In addition, Accion in Chicago will create an innovative program designed to counter the ill effects of predatory small business lending.|
|Community Reinvestment Fund, USA||$2 million||Increase access to capital for underserved small business owners by growing the capacity and capability of other mission-driven lenders through helping them streamline processes and reduce costs directly associated with loan origination.|
|Small Business Majority Foundation||$1 million||Scale business operations and grow educational programs for minority, women and other underrepresented entrepreneurs, providing them with resources and education in key areas of running a business, including increasing their knowledge about how to find and secure financing.|
|Grameen America||$750,000||Fund access to capital exclusively for low-income, women entrepreneurs to scale their growing microbusinesses. In particular, Grameen America's members often lack access to traditional financial institutions and mission-driven lenders. This funding will provide capital, training and support, as well as asset building services for underrepresented small business owners.|
|Lift Fund||$750,000||Fund program support, technology enhancements and capacity building activities to scale efficient programming and spur economic development.|
|SCORE American Small Business Championship||$657,000||Establish new mentor relationships for SCORE with small business owners and provide training to business owners about important topics such as marketing, pricing and finance.|
|Enactus United States||$300,000||Create business borrower education events (in person and online) led by university students and local community resources to educate small business owners on how to select a finance product that best meets their needs.|
|University of New Hampshire research||$35,000||Fund research project leading to the better understanding of business models, common interests and potential opportunities for partnerships between online lenders and community development financial institutions.|
The first round of Small Business Economic Mobility initiative grants made in 2015 are already having a positive impact. Sam’s Club Giving gave the Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) a $3.6 million grant to support development of an educational campaign to inform small business owners about affordable, responsible alternatives to predatory lending. “With the grant from Sam’s Club Giving, OFN was able to create Venturize, a first-of-its-kind online platform designed to equip small business owners, especially those of color, women and under 40, with powerful tools they can use to make important decisions about accessing responsible capital,” said Mark Pinsky, OFN's President and Chief Executive Officer. “Venturize is a game-changer.” The Venturize campaign will launch in May 2016.
Sam’s Club Giving and the Walmart Foundation are teaming up with Small Business Majority and Accion to offer a free, one-hour webinar on May 4 during National Small Business Week. The webinar will help entrepreneurs and small business owners bring finance into focus for long-term success. Participants can register online and will learn background on the small business loan market and providers as well as how to identify the right type of financial product for their business needs.
For more information on Sam’s Club’s investment in our communities, read the recently released 2016 Global Responsibility Report.
About Sam’s Club and the Sam’s Club Giving Program
Sam’s Club®, a division of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. (NYSE: WMT), is a leading membership warehouse club offering superior products, savings and services to millions of members in 652 clubs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico. To learn more about Sam’s Club, visit the Sam’s Club Newsroom, shop at SamsClub.com, and interact with Sam’s Club on Twitter and Facebook.
The Walmart Foundation created the Sam’s Club Giving Program in 2008 with a focus on small business support. Sam’s Club and the Sam’s Club Giving Program, have granted $28 million since 2011 in support of micro- and small business growth. In addition, Sam’s Club provides annual community grants to a variety of nonprofits, offers associate volunteer programs, and donates products to local food banks. For more information visit SamsClub.com/giving.