Walmart to empower new women's website

NEW YORK — Walmart took the next step in its goal to help build women's economic empowerment by announcing the launch of a dedicated page on Walmart.com that will feature an assortment of products created by women in nearly two dozen countries, including women who work in cooperatives and own small businesses. The site, which the company expects to be available in spring 2012, will feature such products as jewelry from Guatemala, Thailand and Ethiopia; coffee from Central and South America; and dresses from Kenya. By 2016, Walmart said it expects the site to feature approximately 500 items — from apparel and jewelry, to stationery and accessories – by more than 20,000 women in nearly two dozen countries.

“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 EVP 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.”

Initial partners for the site will include Full Circle Exchange and Ethical Fashion Africa, a program within the International Trade Centre.

Walmart's dedicated e-commerce page is part of the company's global effort to empower women. The five-year plan — developed with help from both governmental and non-governmental organizations and philanthropic groups — will direct $20 billion on goods and services from U.S. businesses owned by women, as well as double the amount to women-run suppliers overseas.

Human resources issues and training for women will receive Walmart's attention, as it will offer skill-set training for 60,000 female factory workers employed by Wal-Mart suppliers and other merchants. Life skills such as punctuality and financial literacy will be taught as well.