In a transformative move to bolster economic opportunities for Black entrepreneurs, the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE) proudly announces an $800,000 grant from Walmart, facilitated by the Walmart Center for Racial Equity. This collaboration between RICE and Walmart aims to advance economic mobility for Black entrepreneurs in Atlanta and throughout the nation.
Monique Carswell, director of Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity, expressed her enthusiasm about this partnership via email, highlighting RICE’s consistent dedication to nurturing Black businesses.
“Through the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation support initiatives that aim to address equity—including the wealth gap. The $800,000 grant from Walmart will help the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs invest in businesses that have been under-resourced and underfunded, which, in turn, can lift up the historically disadvantaged communities they serve. This work aims to create a more equitable entrepreneurial ecosystem not only in Atlanta but across the nation.”
The grant supports the recently launched PayPal Retail Academy by RICE, a groundbreaking initiative educating entrepreneurs on the intricacies of starting and expanding a retail business.
To mark this partnership, Walmart presented the grant at a special event hosted at the Russell Center headquarters in Atlanta on Oct. 2. The event promised an engaging lineup, including panel discussions, mentorship sessions, and entertainment, showcasing the vibrant entrepreneurial spirit of Atlanta.
A unique feature of the event was the “Walmart: Made Local” trailer tour, celebrating Walmart’s $350 billion commitment to U.S. manufacturing over the past decade. This initiative offers small business owners an opportunity to pitch products for space on Walmart or Sam’s Club shelves and Walmart.com.
Jay Bailey, CEO of RICE, emphasized the significance of this grant, seeing it as a significant step toward its mission of fostering Black businesses.
“The ripple effect of this grant is what it is all about,” Bailey told BLACK ENTERPRISE.
“We are looking at companies who are doing better, creating better products, gaining greater distribution, creating jobs and increasing wealth. The partnership is specifically about developing a world-class platform to grow businesses in the retail space, and in this case, consumer products.”
This collaboration underscores its shared commitment with Walmart to promote equity through economic mobility, shaping the future of Black entrepreneurship.
We believe the next generation of great products that deserve to be on our shelves come from the innovative entrepreneurs and small businesses in our own communities,” Mark Espinoza, senior director of Walmart Public Affairs, told BE.
He emphasized Walmart’s commitment to supplier diversity, inclusion, and strengthening U.S. manufacturing pipelines, highlighting the company’s deep ties with local communities.
Espinoza added: “Open Call, as well as our collaboration with RICE, are symbols of Walmart’s deep commitment to fostering supplier diversity, inclusion, and strengthening U.S. manufacturing pipelines.”
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