There cannot be a better PR move for Walmart than its most recent initiative, to support women-owned businesses around the world.
Leticia Hernandez started making gourmet fried plantains in her kitchen in Guatemala, and now she’s a successful Walmart supplier with a growing business. In India, Amandeep Kaur joined the Bharti Walmart training center to learn how to grow her business across the Indian borders. In China, Wanni Pei teaches organic farming methods to local farmers and suppies Walmart with nectarines. And the list goes on.
To support these efforts, and to raise awareness among consumers, Walmart launched today an online presence that gives shoppers the opportunity to buy unique and interesting products provided by small women-owned businesses around the world. The site, Empowering Women Together, launched with 200 items from 19 businesses in nine countries.
But beyond the amazing objects on sale, there’s a bit more that makes this PR push such a noteworthy proposition: the human factor, the stories that touch our lives.
While you read this, Sisters Joy Ndunguste and Janet Nkubana from Rwanda go on living their dream, with a weaving business that gives thousands of women the chance to earn an income and live better in that part pf the world:
“From a humble beginning under a tree in a remote village in Rwanda, my sister and I founded Gahaya Links after the devastating 1994 Rwanda Genocide that left over 1 million dead,” said Joy Ndungutse. “We organized about 20 women with a vision of empowering them to enhance their weaving skills, to be able to earn an income, and live adequately by community standards. Today we are a growing network of over 4,000 women, the majority of whom are genocide survivors and are organized in cooperatives throughout Rwanda. Through our partnership with Full Circle Exchange and opportunities such as Empowering Women Together, this platform gives hope to many families in Rwanda and we are so grateful.”
This is right now, the only story revealed in full, a story that puts people first, and inspires shoppers to browse the small Empowering Women Together collection today. But if we learned anything about marketing in recent months, from Procter & Gamble to many other other champion brands, the art of story telling is the most compelling marketing strategy in the world. No doubt, Walmart will continue its Empowering Women Together efforts, with more stories, and a comprehensive social media strategy to attract positive reactions from its target public.
Yet, as altruistic as Walmart’s initiative appears at the first sight, there is one small detail the company’s PR department shouldn’t ignore. There is already a Facebook group called Empowering Women Together, a group formed by Thirty-One, an organization with ten years of tradition behind it, founded by Cindy Monroe, who had the same goal as Walmart: to help women by giving them an opportunity to own their own business.
No doubt, when Walmart named its new initiative, there was little to no naming research involved in the process. We can only imagine how Cindy Monroe feels now: a bit of pride, to see that her initiative resonates with power players like Walmart, but then again, a bitter feeling, as her little Facebook group, counting 199 women, will slowly lose its brand identity, suffocated by media mentions favoring Walmart.
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