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The program created by FedEx and AOF will provide workshops and other virtual lessons for small business owners of color. Photo: FedEx.
The program created by FedEx and AOF will provide workshops and other virtual lessons for small business owners of color. Photo: FedEx.

FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab, a new program to help diverse small businesses adapt amid COVID-19

The five-month program will give small businesses all they need to succeed in the growing digital marketplace.

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On May 13, FedEx announced the launch of its new program, FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab, developed in collaboration with Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF), a nonprofit organization that provides small businesses access to capital, networks, and coaching.

“Together with FedEx, we have the opportunity to help elevate the voices of entrepreneurs that often go unheard,” says Luz Urrutia, CEO, Accion Opportunity Fund.

The program will be a hands-on experience available to many small business owners across the country.

Women-owned and people-of-color-owned businesses will be the focus.

That’s in part because those businesses saw the worst economic effects of COVID-19 and received the least amount of aid.

Research conducted by Color of Change and UnidosUS highlighted the lack of access in regards to PPP lending. Only 12% of Black and Latino-owned businesses were able to receive the full amount of PPP loans they requested. Forty-one percent of these business owners had not received any assistance.

One opportunity available to participating business owners as part of the FedEx program is free technical support in setting up their virtual stores, marketing, and managing promotions.

Participants will also receive a $2,000 business grant to launch and grow their virtual business presence.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, many shoppers grew accustomed to hitting online stores and made it a priority for businesses to relocate and create online spaces for commerce. 

With the rise of e-commerce, it is only fair that other small business owners have the opportunity to dive into the online marketplace.

According to statistics provided by Oblero, the number of online shoppers in the United States has also been increasing in recent years. In 2021, there will be over 230 million U.S. digital buyers, a 1.32% increase from 2020.

“It is no secret that the pandemic has had a significant impact on small business owners, especially women and people of color,” said Brie Carere, executive vice president, chief marketing, and communications officer of FedEx.

The learning experience will last for five months and begin in Sept. 2021.

The timeframe will provide small business owners the guidance they need to achieve success during the holidays, which is traditionally the busiest time of year for e-commerce.

“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 Carere.

The program is open to 150 participants in the U.S.

The application process will be available in June on the AOF website.

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