360 degrees – a holistic approach to addressing financial barriers faced by women-owned businesses

I am inviting people on this year’s Power Shift program to tell us what they hope to see happen in their sessions.  For other readers besides those coming to the Forum, I am hoping these posts will act as a news feed about initiatives, trends, emerging issues, and benchmarks reached.  This post is from MiKaela Wardlaw Lemmon, whose session will be on Day 2 of Power Shift.–LMS


Guest post by Mikaela Wardlaw Lemmon, who is is responsible for Women’s Economic Empowerment at Walmart


As part of Walmart’s global Women’s Economic Empowerment (WEE) initiative, sourcing from women-owned businesses (WOBs) is a key priority. By the end of 2016, Walmart plans to source $20B from women for our U.S. business and to double our sourcing from WOBs for our international markets. We’re also providing opportunities for small WOBs inside our online marketplace on Walmart.com called Empowering Women Together. Those are big goals, and we know this kind of supplier growth will require a 360 degree approach. In order to make an impact, we must grow our existing suppliers and identify new WOBs to work with – all while providing them with resources they need to grow with us quickly.

After launching our WEE initiative, Walmart worked with McKinsey in 2012 to identify internal and external barriers for WOBs. In that process, we discovered issues such as lack of awareness, lack of proactive planning, supply chain challenges – and, of course, lack of access to financing. In the past year, Walmart has put several solutions in place to help remove the barriers around awareness, education and planning – and we are starting to see fantastic results!

But our work is not done. In 2014, our priority will be to remove the financing barriers for WOBs (that are currently working with or would like to work with Walmart.) We realize this is a big issue and the solutions will need to be spot-on in order to truly make an impact. During this discussion at Powershift, Walmart will outline our current efforts as they relate to “Access to Capital,” speak to initiatives currently in progress, and provide a peek into our path forward on this age-old problem. The panel will include MiKaela Lemmon who leads this initiative at Walmart, Emily Gottshalk, a woman-owned supplier to Walmart who has been a thought partner in this initiative and is currently piloting some solutions, and Barbara Kasoff with Women Impacting Public Policy who has been a key partner in developing the educational platforms for solving this difficult issue.

You can help too! During this session, we hope to hear more about the specific needs that you face as women-business owners and to gather your feedback on our plan. Questions we’d like you to think about include: 1. Are we addressing the root causes? 2. Are there other workstreams we need to have in place in order to really remove the financial barriers? 3. Is there anyone who has figured this out that we should review or partner with? 4. How can platforms like WIPP’s Access to Capital resource be used globally?

Please bring your ideas!

MiKaela Wardlaw Lemmon

*About the author: MiKaela Wardlaw Lemmon is responsible for Women’s Economic Empowerment at Walmart, specifically focused on Walmart’s Sourcing goals for empowering women worldwide. MiKaela is a graduate of College of the Ozarks with a BA in Marketing and holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Arkansas. She began her career with Walmart in 1999, working in a number of marketing and merchandising roles before her current role and also serves on the board of directors for WeConnect International, and the advisory board for Enterprising Women.

#MiKaelaWardlaw

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