- As retailers devote more resources to support diversity, Alibaba has partnered with Hello Alice, a community of underrepresented entrepreneurs, to grant 50 entrepreneurs $10,000 each as part of its first Alibaba.com Grants Program, the company announced on Tuesday.
- The company used a panel of judges to sift through more than 12,000 applicants who submitted product ideas or go-to-market strategies for consideration. Selected recipients represent a variety of industries including beauty, consumer goods, food and technology.
- In addition to the grants, the B2B e-commerce platform is also providing recipients access to Alibaba.com Digitization Sprint for Retailers, which provides information about sourcing, digital advertising, supply chain management and other essential e-commerce resources, the company said.
Alibaba cited a 2019 survey from Kabbage that found that 44% of digital entrepreneurs said they needed $5,000 or less within the first six months of launching their business. The e-commerce giant also noted that program applicants said raising capital was one of their top business obstacles in 2021.
"At Alibaba.com, it's our mission to make it easy for businesses to do business anywhere, which is why it's an honor to support this group of incredibly inspiring entrepreneurs with start-up capital to catalyze their businesses and grow on their own terms," John Caplan, Alibaba.com president of North America and Europe and judging panel member, said in a statement.
The group of recipients are from diverse backgrounds, according to Hello Alice. Nearly 80% are people of color and 78% are women. Additionally, nearly 90% of the grantees said that the "vast majority" of their teams are from underrepresented groups, including persons with disabilities, military veterans and members of the LGBTQ+ community.
"Starting a business is challenging no matter the circumstances," Elizabeth Gore, president and co-founder of Hello Alice, said in a statement. "But we know certain socioeconomic factors can make the entrepreneurial journey even more difficult."
Alibaba joins other brands and retailers in supporting emerging entrepreneurs. Earlier this year, Target committed to spend more than $2 billion with Black-owned businesses by 2025. That includes increasing its product assortment across categories and expanding its spend with Black-owned companies that provide services like marketing, construction and facilities maintenance. In January, Ipsy also pledged to spend $7 million to market and develop products from Black-owned cosmetics companies this year. This fall GoPuff launched its "Put Me On" accelerator to support entrepreneurs from underrepresented backgrounds.
Clarification: This brief has been updated to indicate that the division administering this grant program, Alibaba.com, is a B2B e-commerce platform.