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.

Walmart’s ultimate goal is to grow the capacity of small businesses like WOB and make them sustainable throughout their supply chain.  There is a growing opportunity to do so and Walmart believes investing in WOB will benefit them in the near future.
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