In 2011, Walmart launched its global Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) initiative with the goal of spending $20 billion with US women-owned businesses (WOB) and doubling its purchases with women-owned firms in international markets over 5 years. The initiative worked and, by 2016, the company had “exceeded the U.S. goal, sourcing $21.2 billion domestically in that period, and sourced almost $250 million internationally from WOB in 2016.”
Achieving purchasing numbers like the one Walmart earned is no easy task, but one that can be done with a business strategy that is supported by the company. The number of WOB in America is steadily increasing, growing 114% compared to 44% for other businesses during the same period, yet tWOBs “continue to contribute the same percentage to domestic business revenues as they did 20 years ago — about 4% of all revenue” According to American Express OPEN, an estimated 11.6 million WOB existed in the country in 2017 accumulating $1.7 trillion in revenue.
Walmart makes it a priority to create opportunity everywhere within its supply chain. “Two-thirds of Walmart’s WOB suppliers do less than $1 million in annual sales with the retailer, though the number of companies who do more than $1 million has been steadily rising.” Allowing regional WOB to sell products at 10 – 20 stores provides small businesses with opportunities to sell their products at a popular establishment like Walmart with the potential to grow based on sales.