LatinaLista -- Ever since the practice of "micro loans" was made popular in helping women entrepreneurs in developing nations establish their businesses, the products they made didn't travel far out of their neighborhoods.
Yet, with technology, the sophistication of business consortiums pooling aspiring entrepreneurs together and the increasing sense that big businesses must have a social conscience these days, things are changing.
Walmart announced today that starting in spring 2012 they will launch a page on walmart.com dedicated to carrying products created by women from about 24 countries, including women who work in cooperatives and own small businesses. By 2016, the site plans to feature approximately 500 items made by more than 20,000 women.
The products will include jewelry from Guatemala, Thailand and Ethiopia; coffee from Central and South America; and dresses from Kenya.
"The challenge for small women-owned businesses - and particularly women artisans - is that they have a fantastic product, but they may not have the size or scale to sell in our brick-and-mortar stores," Leslie Dach, Walmart's executive vice president of Corporate Affairs, said at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting. "This commitment today gives these women access to an established set of customers on Walmart.com, as well as the benefit of the company's knowledge about customers, packaging and promotions."
The new initiative is part of Walmart's recently announced Global Women's Economic Empowerment Initiative, where Walmart plans to double their purchase of products from women-owned businesses around the globe, implement over the next five years retail training programs abroad and in the US to help low-income women acquire skills for the retail industry, and put into place programs to help women working on farms and in factories to develop their job skills.
Seeing that the majority of Walmart's workers are women, the majority of their consumers are women and they are located in various parts of the world, the initiative makes sense but most importantly it will make a difference to women who want to improve the quality of their lives for themselves and their children.