Sam’s Club Invests in Small-business Growth

To mark National Small Business Week, Sam’s Club and its Giving Program have introduced the Small Business Economic Mobility initiative, a five-year investment in small-business growth through easier access to capital and borrower education. Sam's Club launched the initiative in response to the difficulties faced by low- to moderate-income small-business owners in procuring affordable loans and navigating the lending process. By bringing together expertise, business initiatives like its recently rolled-out Business Lending Center and philanthropic investments, the warehouse club retailer aims to help small-business owners gain access to affordable capital.

Kicking off the initiative is a first round of grants totaling $13.6 million to eight national nonprofit organizations providing access to capital and education to underserved U.S. small businesses, including those operated by women, minorities and veterans. The grant recipients are Accion U.S. Network ($1.8 million); Association for Enterprise Opportunity ($2.5 million); The Aspen Institute-Fund for Innovation, Effectiveness, Learning and Dissemination ($450,000); Community Reinvestment Fund ($500,000); National Association of Latino Community Asset Builders ($2 million); The Opportunity Fund ($750,000); and Valley Economic Development Center ($2 million). Additionally, the Opportunity Finance Network will receive a $3.6 million grant to raise awareness of predatory lending and educate small business borrowers.

"Our founder, Sam Walton, started Sam's Club to help small businesses get access to big business savings, save money and grow their businesses as a result," noted Sam's Club President and CEO Rosalind Brewer. "Through this philanthropic investment, our founder's legacy is carried forward by fortifying our communities' lending resources to increase access to capital and borrower education for small-business owners." She added that such efforts would "open doors for small business and strengthen the backbone of the U.S. economy."

This year alone, Sam's Club is a Bronze Sponsor of the Small Business Administration's National Small Business Week, a Diamond Sponsor for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's America’s Small Business Summit and Dream Big Small Business of the Year Award program, and leading sponsor of the YEA! Young Entrepreneurs Academy, which provides entrepreneurial education to grade-school students across the United States.

Sam's Club, a division of Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., operates 649 U.S. club locations and 

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