Little Rock, Ark. – September 22, 2021 – Winrock International has received funding from Walmart through the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity to provide business development support to Black-owned e-commerce and wholesale retail enterprises in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi. The grant will support the Readying Small Business for Access to Capital program to help businesses seek, prepare for and tap into new sources of capital to sustain and expand their businesses.
Recent studies have shown that the COVID-19 crisis and associated economic downturn disproportionately impact Black and other minority-owned businesses across the U.S., in part because they have more difficulty securing business loans than non-minority-owned enterprises. Minority-owned businesses can also lack the cash flow buffer needed to remain liquid during downturns, as well as lacking access to traditional sources of capital such as bank loans due to historical exclusion from traditional financial institutions and unequal access to capital. The JPMorgan Chase Institute reported that small business owners from Black and Hispanic communities had a much shorter financial runway than their white peers. These low liquidity levels indicate that minority-owned businesses may suffer from more COVID-19 closures than white-owned businesses. The Kauffman Foundation’s briefing: “Startup Trends by Race: How Access to Capital Impacts Profitability,” indicates that Black entrepreneurs are most likely to rely on credit cards to start businesses. Future profitability of businesses is tied to the form of startup capital used, and credit card debt results in the most negative impacts.
The $900,000 grant from Walmart will enable Winrock to begin providing tailored assistance to existing Black-owned businesses in the three southern states as they prepare to seek and utilize new sources of capital to keep their businesses afloat and ultimately, expand their enterprises.
“The Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity’s philanthropy in finance seeks to reduce the racial wealth gap by focusing on supporting the success of Black-owned businesses in the retail industry,” said Monique Carswell, Director, Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity. “As one of our first finance investments, our support of Winrock will help Black entrepreneurs advance in the retail sector and strengthen the communities in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi where they are based.”
To survive and thrive, these enterprises not only need help evaluating and applying for new loans, they need support for business plan development, prototyping and patenting advice, customer discovery assistance and peer networking, and other forms of technical assistance. Perhaps most importantly, these historically underserved businesses need access to new sources of capital. This program will help to connect entrepreneurs to potential loan, grant and investment opportunities through programs including, but not limited to, Calvert Impact Capitals’s Southern Opportunity and Resilience (SOAR) fund.
“Many businesses have experienced hardship during the pandemic, but Black-owned small businesses in the South’s retail sector have been hit especially hard,” said Linsley Kinkade, Winrock’s senior director of U.S. Programs. “With funding from Walmart, Winrock’s Readying Small Businesses for Access to Capital program directly responds to some of the most urgent needs of Black-owned businesses reeling from COVID.”
Through the Readying Small Business for Access to Capital program, Winrock will work with designated representatives in Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi to engage, recruit and enroll business owners who are interested in exploring new capital opportunities. Winrock will provide a range of tailored assistance including analyses of needs and gaps; assessment of capital loan preparedness and applications; credit counseling; business plan development; accounting, marketing and corporate governance; and other support.
ABOUT WINROCK INTERNATIONAL
Winrock International is a recognized leader in U.S. and international development with a focus on social, agricultural and environmental issues. Inspired by its namesake, Winthrop Rockefeller, Winrock combines scientific and technical expertise with entrepreneurial innovation to deliver market-based solutions that improve lives around the world. Winrock’s mission is to empower the disadvantaged, increase economic opportunity and sustain natural resources across the globe.
ABOUT THE WALMART.ORG CENTER FOR RACIAL EQUITY
The Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity was founded by Walmart and the Walmart Foundation through a $100 million commitment over five years to address the drivers of systemic racism in society and accelerate change. The center’s initiatives will fund research, advocacy, innovation of practices and tools, stakeholder convening and non-profit capacity building with a focus on four systems: financial, healthcare, education and criminal justice. The mission of the center is to complement and extend the societal impact of Walmart business initiatives to advance racial equity within these four systems, and our work extends the overarching philanthropic work of Walmart.org. To learn more, visit Center for Racial Equity.