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With COVID-19 and economic inequalities on the forefront, businesses are stepping up to open doors for opportunity.
When government mandated lockdowns occurred across the country in the wake of COVID-19, physical storefronts had to close. E-commerce became a necessary tool for businesses–especially small businesses–for survival.
In May with a $1 million grant, FedEx launched the FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab with a focus on women-owned businesses and entrepreneurs of color. In collaboration with Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF), 150 small business owners will take part in e-commerce workshops and will receive personalized coaching by experts.
Business owners will receive assistance in all aspects of selling online: from setting up a virtual store to marketing–including product photography, customer service, and managing and fulfilling orders. The support will start in September and is scheduled to run for five months, offering help during the holiday season, the busiest time of the year for e-commerce.
These small business owners will also receive $2,000 grants to launch and grow their online businesses.
Given the disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on women and people of color, FedEx felt the need to step up and help.
“It is no secret that the pandemic has had a significant impact on small business owners, especially women and people of color. Through our new collaboration with AOF, we are helping to level the playing field and get these small businesses back on their feet, which is especially important as record growth in e-commerce volumes continue,” said Brie Carere, Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer for FedEx in a press release.
Luz Urrutia, the CEO of Accion Opportunity Fund agreed: “By offering access to resources and opportunities and providing tailored support, we can prepare these communities for future growth and ultimately develop more equitable economic opportunities for a diverse range of businesses.”
Accion Opportunity Fund, formed in 2020, provides small business owners with access to capital, networks, and coaching.
The assistance and training are timely. According to eMarketer, e-commerce grew by over 32% in 2020, “as consumers continue to avoid stores and opt for online shopping amid the pandemic.”
In addition to the training and coaching, FedEx and AOF will launch a series of online seminars as well as a digital hub of learning courses for any small business owner.
“We’ll not only help individuals meet customer needs in new ways, but also provide comprehensive programming that will equip them with the tools to navigate through these uncertain times,” said Carere.