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Village Market And Our Village United Launches Walmart-Backed Pro-Bono Business Incubator For Black Women Founders

The Black woman-led organization received a $500,000 grant from Walmart to help fuel retail-facing small businesses.

It’s every founder’s dream to have a business get to a point where it runs seamlessly. But that type of operationalization often takes a myriad of resources and manpower that many Black-led companies aren’t tapped into.

Fortunately, there are organizations out there working to bridge access gaps for those that need it most.

In a news release shared with ESSENCE, it was announced that Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon, Founder of Village Market and Our Village United (OVU) launched a technical assistance program (at no cost to participants) with support from Walmart’s Center Racial Equity, who gave $500,000 to help power the initiative.

“Black women founders are leading the tide when it comes to growing rates of entrepreneurship,” said Dr. Lakeysha Hallmon, founder & Executive Director of Our Village United in a news release. “However, they are significantly underserved when it comes to the technical assistance, resources and capital needed to operate and scale their businesses at a proportionate rate. This program is an opportunity to give Black women founders the tools and resources they need to build a solid foundation for opportunities that lead to sustainable, thriving businesses and a cycle of economic possibilities for the Black community as a whole.” 

This incubator comes at a time when Black women hold place in the US as the fastest-growing entrepreneurial group, but the least funded.

Despite 17% of US Black women starting or running a new business when compared to 15% of white men and 10% of white women, they only received 0.02% of VC funding. And only 3% of those women are operating a mature business, mostly due to a lack of cash reserves and technical skills.

OVU is aiming to disrupt this cycle of disparity with a hub of support for solopreneurs and microbusinesses through their programming, educational resources and mentoring, driven by the rollout of the Walmart-backed program. The Pro Bono Program funded will support Black women founders across Alabama, Arkansas, Tennessee and Georgia.

“Supporting Black women founders, who are sparking growth in Black entrepreneurship, is key to the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity’s aim to reduce the racial wealth gap by strengthening Black businesses in the retail industry,” said Monique Carswell, Director, Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity in a news release shared with ESSENCE. “We are excited to support Our Village United’s Pro Bono Program and learn more about how targeted assistance and resources can help Black women founders overcome challenges to growing their businesses.” 

“Every day, Black women are making strides in innovation and simply need the opportunities and allies in their corner to amplify their excellence,” said Dr. Hallmon. “As a Black female founder who started a business with zero start-up capital, I understand the challenges these founders face. However, it is clear that when key stakeholders take a holistic approach to ensuring these businesses have access to capital, technical assistance and resources to grow and sustain, the economic value for themselves and the communities they serve is limitless.”