Walmart Invests $12 million to Help Women Entrepreneurs in Latin America, Caribbean

In Industry News, Reports, What's New by Accessories Staff

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks at the Summit of the Americas Civil Society Dialogue in Cartagena

Cartagena, Colombia—U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced that a new public-private partnership, which includes Walmart, that will aim to help train and nurture women entrepreneurs in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Clinton, who was in Cartagena with President Barack Obama and U.S. officials attending the Summit of the Americas, said Friday the partnerships will provide “access to training and professional networks, access to markets, and access to capital and other financial services.”

“The most effective way to accelerate a nation’s economic productivity and prosperity is to enable women to participate,” Clinton said.

The Walmart Foundation will support training and provide $1.5 million for grants to promote economic empowerment and development for women-owned businesses in the region, the State Department said.

Another partner, Goldman Sachs, through its 10,000 Women Entrepreneurship Partnership program, will bring women to the United States for training, while Exxon’s foundation will sponsor grants to support the registration and certification of women-owned businesses in Mexico.

“We are focusing on small and medium-sized enterprises because we want a bottom-up growth strategy,” Clinton said.

“We believe business has a responsibility and an opportunity to help bring about what you’d call an age of participation, a world where women can fully contribute and where their contributions are respected and valued,” Mike Duke, Walmart’s president/ceo, said.

‘A Bottom Up Growth Strategy’

The Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) will work with lenders on models that support growth in women’s businesses. The Washington-based lender, which supports efforts in the region to fight poverty, will also work with Walmart and the State Department to help women-owned businesses in Chile, Costa Rica and Peru gain access to new markets and increase productivity. Walmart will be working with the IDB to provide job training and help with job placement for nearly 1 million young people in these regions, at least half of whom will be young women.

“These partnerships will not only change the lives of the women we’ll reach, but also improve the lives of their families and their entire communities,” said Duke, who joined Secretary Clinton at the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena. “When we launched our Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative last year, we committed to helping women around the world live better. By working with leaders like Secretary Clinton, we’re bringing that mission to life.”

Walmart’s $12 million commitment to Secretary Clinton’s International Fund for Women and Girls, the IDB and other non-governmental agencies includes:

●The WEAmericas Small Grants Initiative–in partnership with Secretary Clinton’s International Fund for Women and Girls, the Walmart Foundation has pledged $1.5 million to help create the WEAmericas Small Grants Initiative. Over the next two years, the effort will support the dreams of up to 55,000 potential women entrepreneurs in rural and indigenous communities throughout the Americas.

●Vital Voices Women Entrepreneur Support –The Walmart Foundation is donating $500,000 to Vital Voices, an NGO committed to unleashing the leadership potential of extraordinary women around the world. The grant will provide long-term support for women hoping to grow small businesses.

●The New Employment Opportunities (NEO) Initiative–Walmart will translate and provide its Walmart Brazil Social Retail School curriculum to the IDB’s NEO Initiative. The retailer also committed to continuing its partnership in Brazil with governments and NGOs for the next five years, graduating thousands of new students. Combined, this support is valued at more than $10 million.

The IDB expects its NEO Initiative to empower roughly 1 million young people to take control of their futures over the next 10 years. At least half of those served will be young women.

For more information on Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, visit