Products created by women-owned and operated companies will now have the ability to be marketed and labeled as such on Walmart shelves in both the U.S. and international markets if certified by the Women's Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC).
In line with Walmart’s Global Women’s Economic Empowerment initiative — which mandates that the company sources $20 billion from women-owned U.S. businesses, and to double sourcing from women internationally by the end of 2016 — Walmart will sell packaged products on store shelves showcasing a newly designed women-owned business logo by September.
“At Walmart we are committed to empowering women and impacting women-owned businesses from around the world — and so are our customers,” said MiKaela Wardlaw Lemmon, senior director of Women’s Economic Empowerment at Walmart, in a statement.
“In fact, we recently conducted a survey that found 90 percent of female customers in the U.S. would go out of their way to purchase products from women, believing they would offer higher quality.”
The announcement was made on the last day of WBENC’s 15th annual National Conference and Business Fair in Philadelphia at the Pennsylvania Convention Center, where more than 3,000 executives from leading corporations, government entities and women’s business enterprises gathered for more than three days to generate future business, listen to acclaimed speakers and attend educational workshops.
“Organizations such as WBENC have really helped with introductions on a level-playing field,” said Karen Primak, president of IPAK in West Deptford, a manufacturer of custom packing, printing, technology and video for marketing, sales and educational purposes.
“The challenge is people’s perception of what a women-owned business is: Are they risk adverse? Will they have access to capital? Those questions are asked more often rather than if a business was male-owned.”
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Despite common stigmas, women-owned businesses contribute more than $1.3 trillion dollars to the U.S. economy and employ 7.7 million people across the country.
“There is no question that if you want to compensate yourself well, you should be starting and growing your own business,” said Marsha Firestone, founder and president of the Women Presidents’ Education Organization, which issues WBENC’s nationally-recognized certification to qualifying women-owned businesses in New York, Northern New Jersey, Southern Connecticut, Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia.
“That’s how you’ll be able to pay yourself more, have more control of your time and goals, and have more power and influence.”
As the additional founder and president of the Women Presidents’ Organization — a membership organization for women presidents and CEOs of privately held, multimillion-dollar companies — Firestone would know.
“Women are good at perceiving a need in the marketplace and creating a company from scratch to deliver on it,” said Pamela Prince-Eason, president and CEO of WBENC, in a statement.
“We help them push to the next level of revenues, customer size and contract scope.”
Founded in 1997, WBENC is a nationwide leader in women’s business development and the leading third-party certifier of businesses owned and operated by at least 51 percent women, having certified more than 12,000 women’s business enterprises.
Company members of WBENC have access to supplier diversity lists and procurement representatives from major corporations and agencies, as well as the ability to compete for contracts specifically set-aside for Women Owned Small Businesses.
“Our original vision when we created WBENC was to be a third-party certifier in the United States for both corporate and public sector,” said Geri Swift, President of the Women’s Business Enterprise Council for Pennsylvania, Delaware and southern New Jersey.
“We’re now getting to move that initiative forward…that’s where I really see the growth moving forward with women-owned businesses.”
As founding President of the Women’s Business Development Center, Swift created the WBEC in 1999 to help improve the business environment for women and minority-owned companies in those regional areas.
The WBEC, a co-founder and regional partner of the WBENC, also hosted this year’s National Conference and Business Fair in Philadelphia.
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