Walmart gives $800K to Atlanta organization for Black entrepreneurship

The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs will use the funding to help train owners of consumer goods businesses
The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs is seen on Tuesday, August 29, 2023.
Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

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The Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs is seen on Tuesday, August 29, 2023. Miguel Martinez /

Credit: Miguel Martinez

Walmart is giving a $800,000 grant to the Russell Innovation Center for Entrepreneurs (RICE), a nonprofit dedicated to developing, growing and scaling Black entrepreneurs, the retail giant announced Monday. The funding will bolster efforts to train business owners who produce consumer goods.

The announcement comes on the heels of another large corporate gift to RICE. In August, PayPal donated $1 million to launch the PayPal Retail Academy, which is slated be an MBA-level of training in retail. Walmart’s one-year grant to RICE is part of the company’s 2020 commitment to contribute $100 million over five years for racial equity.

Credit: Mirtha Donastorg

Credit: Mirtha Donastorg

Part of the Walmart funding will go towards the retail academy’s launch. It will also be used to support the earlier stages of RICE’s entrepreneurship curriculum and Walmart employees will help teach business owners in the programs about what the retailer’s buyers, procurement officers and shelf managers are looking for.

“We’re going to be the place that when you see RICE on the head of any application that comes in, Walmart will know that they have to give it a good look because we’re going to prepare these entrepreneurs to win, to be shelf ready, to be retail ready,” said Jay Bailey, president and CEO of RICE.

Bailey also hopes that by having Walmart associates teach entrepreneurs how to get on Walmart shelves, it will boost their confidence and belief in their business.

The PayPal Retail Academy will teach up to 50 entrepreneurs about non-traditional retail paths, how to develop global marketing strategies and navigating supply chain issues. PayPal employees will also help mentor and coach the business owners. The new academy will launch in January 2024.

Currently, RICE supports more than 360 Black-owned businesses. About 25% of them are retail product companies, like Yany Beauty. Yaminah Childress is the CEO of Yany Beauty and will be pitching Walmart in late October to carry their men’s skincare line and a hair oil.

“Our vision for the future is to be on shelves at Walmart,” Childress said. “So that our customers and customers around the world can discover what Yany Beauty is.”

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