Opportunity

Growing Opportunities for Africa – and Its People

When Vivian Kleynhans was a child, apartheid law forced her and her siblings out of their small South African hometown. Twenty years later, the country’s changed political landscape opened doors for their dream of starting a business – and now, they produce wines that are welcomed by customers in not only South Africa, but on two additional continents.

Vivian’s business along with her sisters, Seven Sisters Wines, supplies products to more than 500 U.S. Walmart stores. Their wines are also exclusively imported by Heritage Link Brands, an African-American woman-owned company. By investing in Seven Sisters, we’re not only furthering the success of a woman-owned business – we are also supporting growth in Africa, a continent that has a rapidly expanding presence in our global economy.

Walmart made a significant investment in Africa in 2011 with our acquisition of Massmart, and our CEO Doug McMillon reiterated our commitment to the continent yesterday at the U.S.-Africa Business Forum. He noted that our dedication to Africa reflects our mission of helping customers afford the things they need for their families. Our commitment to our customers means we are also invested in their communities and the issues most important to them, and so today I joined the second day of the Forum to share a specific way we’re investing in the African people – women in particular.

At the Investing in Our Future event, African First Spouses from more than 30 countries, plus First Lady Michelle Obama, Laura Bush, nonprofit leaders and others gathered to discuss the impact of investments in education, health, and public-private partnerships. Through Walmart’s Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative, we’ve devoted resources to these very things to benefit women all over the world, and today, I had the privilege of announcing an aspect that will benefit 135,000 farmers in Africa – 85,000 of whom are women.


Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are pledging $3 million to train farmers in Rwanda, Zambia and Kenya. The funds will support the expansion of three projects organized by USAID and three NGOs -- Global Communities, Agribusiness Systems International and One Acre Fund. Through these projects, these farmers will receive high-quality farm inputs, such as seed and fertilizer, and credit and post-harvest support. This will mean they can participate more fully and fairly in the rural agriculture industry. They will also receive appropriate prices for their surplus produce, thereby gaining access to stable economic opportunity and becoming more active decision makers in their households.

As these farmers are able to produce higher crop yields, they will also be able to contribute to another important issue: eliminating hunger on the continent.

I was honored to be a part of today’s events and can’t wait to witness what’s next for Africa – and especially for its people.

Learn more about the Women’s Economic Empowerment Initiative sourcing and training programs that we’re funding: Helping Women Live Better

Learn more about CEO Doug McMillon’s role in the U.S.-Africa Business Forum: Doug McMillon Speaks at U.S.-Africa Business Forum

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Life

#FiveThingsFriday: Jet.com, a Special Surprise and Appreciating Associates

ICYMI this week: Walmart acquired Jet.com and expanded the way we serve our customers, Miss America Savvy Shields returned to her home state of Arkansas to support Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals, and we’ve got Halloween decorations to make your house the spookiest on the block.

Walmart Acquires Jet.com

At the beginning of the week, we were excited to officially welcome a new company to the Walmart family. But why Jet.com? Our CEO Doug McMillon said it best: “Walmart and Jet.com obsess about saving customers time and money. By joining forces, we’ll be better at doing both, creating seamless shopping from app to site to store.”

A Special Request Inspires Custom Delivery

For the past three months, Danny Nolin’s Ocean Pacific striped T-shirt is the only one he’s wanted to wear. After being washed and worn dozens of times, the shirt finally ripped, and his family searched high and low for a replacement, only to find that it was no longer available in stores. After one of his relatives reached out to Walmart on social media, we were able to team with our supplier, dig through the archives and make 10 new shirts just for Danny.

Way to Go! Associates Earn Cash Bonuses

Our people work hard to serve our customers. So much so that 99% (!) of our stores met goals for cleanliness, faster checkout and better service in the second quarter. We were excited to recognize our associates’ hard work by recently paying out more than $200 million in quarterly bonuses to about 932,000 hourly associates.

Miss America Savvy Shields Visits Walmart

The newly crowned Miss America, Savvy Shields, made an appearance in Bentonville, Arkansas, this week to support a cause near and dear to her heart, bringing awareness to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals. She toured a Walmart store and interacted with associates and customers all to raise awareness for the cause.

Have No Fear: Cool Halloween Décor is Here (All Under $18!)

You can always count on Walmart for some scary good deals. Check out some of the items we have this Halloween season to make your house one of the scariest on the block!

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Opportunity

This Mall in Indiana is Helping Retail Workers Succeed

No matter the job, real-world experience is the most valuable foundation for starting a career or advancing an existing one.

Training is a close second. But sometimes it’s unclear how both of these can move you forward, especially in the retail industry.

In Northwest Indiana, a new retail training lab is working to provide the answers.

Positioned in a local retail hub -- the Southlake Mall in Merrillville, Indiana – the retail training lab is a place where retail job seekers can take classes that cover the interpersonal and technical skills that are necessary to create an overall outstanding customer experience. Not only can workers gain this new knowledge, but they can also earn an official credential: Graduates can receive certifications in customer service and sales, loss prevention, retail management, and/or inventory management, all of which are recognized by the National Retail Federation and the Retail Loss Prevention Foundation.

While it may seem unusual to establish a training center in the middle of a shopping environment – for these students, it just made sense. Not only do participants have close access to technical instruction, but they can step out of the retail training lab and experience customer service and retail management in action, just by walking into one of the many stores in the mall.

A few weeks ago, the first round of graduates completed the NRF customer service and sales certification. I was taken aback by how passionate they were about everything they had learned, and as a previous store owner for 23 years, I knew that they were equipped with everything they would need to be successful in either starting or advancing in their careers. Not only were they armed with certified skills, but they were coming away with a renewed sense of confidence.

This lab, an initiative of the Northwest Indiana Workforce Board, was made possible through a grant from the Walmart Foundation to the Chicago Cook Workforce Partnership, which has enabled us to offer classes at no cost. That strengthens employment opportunities for everyone who walks out of our doors. We’re excited to provide such one-of-a-kind service for jobseekers and employers in retail.

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Business

Five Big Reasons Walmart Bought Jet.com

Just a few moments ago, the ink dried on a deal that officially makes Jet.com a part of the Walmart family.

The close of this deal marks a big day for both companies. A lot of folks ask me, “Why Jet.com?” The answer is simple: Walmart and Jet.com obsess about saving customers time and money. By joining forces, we’ll be better at doing both, creating seamless shopping from app to site to store. Here are a few more reasons why we’re excited about this deal:

1) Jet.com brings more ways to serve our customers and reach new customers online. Jet.com created a unique, transparent way for customers to shop, helping them make choices that lower their prices as they shop — from building smarter baskets to opting out of free returns and using debit cards. This has helped Jet.com win fans among savvy shoppers and will help us put the power to save in more shoppers’ hands. Look for that on Walmart.com.

2) The deal will build on our e-commerce foundation and accelerate growth. We’ve grown Walmart.com to the second largest online retailer by traffic in the U.S. and in just the past six months we’ve expanded from 7 million items to more than 15 million on the site. We’re adding about a million more each month. We’ve built an impressive fulfillment network that uses mega-sized fulfillment centers and our stores to get orders to customers faster. Within a year, we’ve created one of the largest online grocery businesses in the country.

3) Jet.com’s and Walmart.com’s customer bases are complementary. Jet.com is a hit among urban millennials, and it will continue to focus on delivering premium brands and experiences. Walmart.com is winning value-conscious shoppers with everyday low prices by keeping costs low. And that’s enhanced by a wide assortment and convenient store pickup options. Together, both Jet.com and Walmart.com will be able to leverage each other’s assets to grow the ways we serve customers.

4) Jet.com boasts incredible talent. Marc is both a visionary e-commerce leader and a merchant. He brings with him a smart and talented team that, when combined with ours, will be the best in retail.

5) Together, Jet.com and Walmart can win the future of retail. We’re in the business of “saving people money so that they can live better.” But the value of our customers’ time cannot be overstated. To win the future of retail, we must save customers both money and time. By combining with Jet.com’s technology, shopping experience, customers and talent, we will do exactly that. We will exceed their expectations!

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Community

Food for Thought: Focusing Minds by Fighting Hunger

Across America, kids are settling back into school routines. They are making new friends, trying new activities, and taking on new subjects to learn.

But there’s something else that happens this time of year: many children also return to depend on the availability of a healthy meal at a school breakfast, lunch or afterschool program. In the United States, hunger is a critical issue in the lives of far too many families. The USDA reports that in 2015, 42.2 million people in America, including more than 13 million children, lived in households that are at risk of struggling with hunger.

At the Walmart Foundation, we envision a world where families have access to healthy food – when and where they need it. Together with Walmart, we are supporting organizations that are fighting hunger in ways that create long-term positive change, like providing meal programs, offering nutrition education, and increasing access to fruits and vegetables. Two years ago, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation pledged to help provide 4 billion meals to people in need by 2020. Because of the great work being done by our grantees, we are already over halfway there – but we know that there is more work to do.

Today we are announcing $33 million in grants to nonprofit organizations working in local communities across the country. Each of these organizations is bringing their passion, creativity and unique talents to helping families access healthy food. Here are just a few examples:

The Chef Ann Foundation helps schools establish lunchroom learning programs that teach kids about different varieties of fresh produce and allow them to sample fruits and vegetables that they may not normally have access to. The fun and educational activities are encouraging even the pickiest of eaters to try – and enjoy – new, healthier foods, take their newfound tastes back to their families, and develop good eating habits in school and out.

The National Recreation and Parks Association offers meal programs and nutrition education across the country. This summer, one of those in the Baltimore area helped children at the Lincoln Park Community Center plant and maintain a vegetable garden for the summer. After growing squash, peppers, radishes and cabbage, many of the kids said they felt personally connected to their crops.


Another grantee, Partners for Breakfast in the Classroom, is helping kids start their day with solid nutrition. After implementing one program in Denver Public Schools where 10,484 additional students began receiving school breakfast every day, the initiative was deemed so successful that it served as a model for the entire state. Colorado enacted new “Breakfast after the Bell” legislation which requires schools to serve a free, nutritious breakfast to all students if 80% or more of the student body is eligible for free or reduced-price lunch.

Investing in these organizations is how we can help make a difference one community at a time. Each grant may be one step, but an important one. It will take more organizations, individuals, community leaders and companies working together to make the vision of a nation without hunger a reality.

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