Applications opened today for LadderUp, an innovative new accelerator program from retail technology company Shipt that will equip local retailers with tools needed to thrive in an ever-evolving marketplace. The program builds upon a set of commitments announced at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition, and Health to expand access to food in underserved communities, particularly for those with mobility or transportation barriers.
LadderUp will support local economies by helping local small businesses, especially ones owned by LGBTQ+ people and people of color, grow and compete by providing capital, e-commerce-focused technical assistance, and education from industry leaders to businesses around the country. In line with their commitment to level the economic playing field for Black and other underrepresented populations, Shipt aims to have at least 50% of the businesses in LadderUp to be LGBTQ+ and BIPOC-owned.
“As a growing tech company that is putting food insecurity and equity at the forefront of its work, Shipt is proud to announce the launch of LadderUp,” said Kamau Witherspoon, CEO of Shipt. “Working with small businesses to build up their capabilities is a key part of our commitment to help create healthier, more resilient and equitable communities. We recognize the unique role that we can play in both combating hunger in under-resourced communities and boosting small, local retailers that are so vital to communities across our country.”
LadderUp applications are open today, February 6, through March 6, 2023, and small businesses in five cities can apply to be part of the program: Atlanta; Birmingham, AL; Detroit; Houston; and Washington, D.C. This opportunity is open to grocery/beverage, health, beauty, and floral/gifts retailers. If selected, small business owners will go through an extensive 8 week course learning from retail industry leaders on driving sustainable growth, building financial foundation, building efficiency, marketing, e-commerce 101, using Shipt, and the basic legal knowledge needed to run a business.
Upon completion of the program, retailers will have in-depth industry knowledge to help them navigate and understand trends in the evolving e-commerce landscape. Additionally, Shipt will provide each participating retailer who completes the LadderUp program $5,000 to help invest in their e-commerce. Shopify, a leading e-commerce company, is partnering with Shipt to teach a course in the program and provide no-cost access to their platform to help retailers build an online storefront, streamline operations, and optimize inventory tracking.
“At Shopify, our mission is to make commerce better for everyone,” said Crystal Hunt, Shopify Sr. Program Manager of Partnerships Diversity & Belonging. “To achieve this mission we must bring more voices to entrepreneurship. Together with Shipt, we are reducing the unique barriers facing underrepresented business owners. Through this partnership we will create community and opportunity for the change makers, disruptors and creators of tomorrow, because we know the success of a single entrepreneur can create a legacy, power communities and inspire the world.”
The LadderUp program builds on Shipt’s existing work designed to support the communities in which it operates and serves. In 2022, Shipt awarded nearly $250,000 in microgrants to organizations who focused on food insecurity, economic disparities and youth workforce development. Shipt works with national partners such as Feeding America, American Red Cross and United Way to help funding go even further in the communities that need it the most.
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