During Women’s History Month, which was celebrated last March, Walmart announced that thousands of in-store and online products will carry a special logo certifying that they are produced by a woman-owned business. The logo was designed by Rouge24, a graphic design company owned by a woman. The new campaign is intended to further advance Walmart’s existing Global Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, which was begun in 2011. The Initiative’s goal is to create and improve economic opportunities for women throughout the world through increased financing from women-owned businesses, empowerment training programs and product promotion through Walmart’s vast marketing infrastructure.
A company must be at least 54% owned by women in order to qualify for the special logo. Applicants will be scrutinized by WEConnect International and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) before being allowed to participate.
Six products, displaying the new woman-owned logo were featured on the Walmart website during the inaugural month of March: Ariela and Associates Smart & Sexy Bra, Milo’s Tea, Goldbug Inc. Carter’s Newborn Shoes, Ziegenfelder’s Budget Saver Pops, HMS Manufacturing Company Hefty Wastebaskets and Jelmar CLR Remover.
Milo’s Tea and Ziegenfelder’s Budget Saver Pops are two great success stories. Milo’s Tea was started in 1946 in Birmingham, Alabama. It began in a hamburger restaurant begun my Milo after his return from the war. His daughter took the concept one step further and began marketing the teas in supermarkets in the locations where the family had their restaurants. Customers familiar with the tea from the restaurants were going to the supermarket just to purchase the gallon jugs of Milo tea. From this humble beginning, Milo grew to spread across America and become a featured woman-owned business by Walmart.
Ziegenfelder’s Budget Saver Pops has been under the helm of female leadership for the past 20 years. It was begun 124 years ago. Current CEO Lisa Allen assumed the position after her father in 2004. The Twin Pop product was introduced during the depression as a way of providing twice the pop for children during a time when money was scarce. For a nickel, two children could enjoy a single pop treat. It became one of the largest frozen twin Popsicle producers in the United States.
According to Forbes Magazine, the number of women-owned businesses in the United States increased by 68% during the period 1997 to 2014.
The National Women’s Business Council reports that women are opening businesses at a rate twice that of their male counterparts, making vast contributions in employment and tax revenues. In fact, according to WBENC, businesses owned by women add more than $1.4 trillion to the American economy. The majority of woman-owned businesses are in the social services and healthcare industries, but they cover the full spectrum of the commercial world. A glance at Business Insider’s “39 of the Coolest Startups founded by Women,” gives you a snapshot of the breath and ingenuity of women founders. Included on the list are:
- Mattermark, a data platform that lets readers keep up to date on startups. It has raised $9.9 million over 4 fundraising rounds.
- Front, a program designed to declutter and streamline your email communications.
- TheSkimm which puts all the day’s top news stories in your hands in a single newsletter delivered to your inbox each morning. Skimm founders raised $7.8 million over two fundraising rounds.
- AbbeyPost, which seeks to improve the shopping experience for plus-sized women.
This is a good move for Walmart too, beyond the altruistic aspect. Campaign director Jenny Greiser notes that sales evidence proves that customers are anxious to buy product from a woman-owned business. Of store-wide inventory, products from woman-owned businesses are outpacing others in terms of sales and customer loyalty.
If you have been sitting on a great idea for a while, now is the time to launch. The ground could not be more fertile.