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FedEx Launches E-Commerce Learning Lab in Collaboration with Accion Opportunity Fund

A $1 million grant will be used to fund program that helps businesses owned by women and people of color expand e-commerce operations.

FedEx recently announced the launch of the FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab. This new program was developed in collaboration with Accion Opportunity Fund (AOF). AOF is a leading nonprofit organization providing small business owners with access to capital, networks and coaching. The program will help diverse small business owners develop or expand their e-commerce operations. It will assist them as they continue to adapt their business models in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The program will focus specifically on women and entrepreneurs of color.

Expanding e-commerce knowledge

This program will provide intensive hands-on learning to a cohort of 150 small business owners across the United States. It will offer a series of workshops and one-on-one coaching by e-commerce experts. Participants will receive free technical support in setting up and maintaining their virtual stores. They will additionally receive support with marketing, managing promotions, customer service, managing orders and fulfillments and product photography. Participants will also receive a $2,000 business grant to launch and grow their e-commerce business. AOF and FedEx will develop a series of virtual seminars that will cover more advanced e-commerce topics. There will also be an online learning hub that will feature on-demand virtual learning courses. Courses are open to any small business owner seeking to expand their e-commerce expertise.

Creating e-commerce experts

The FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab aims to support small businesses owned by women and people of color. The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionally impacted these groups. More consumers are shopping online during the pandemic. As a result, eMarketer reports that e-commerce volumes grew by 33 percent in 2020. FedEx hopes to connect diverse small businesses with the tools, resources and experts that can help them navigate online sales. In turn, this will allow business owners to forge a new path to growth.

“It is no secret that the pandemic has had a significant impact on small business owners, especially women and people of color. 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 Brie Carere, executive vice president, chief marketing and communications officer, FedEx. “With the launch of the FedEx E-Commerce Learning Lab, we’ll not only help individuals meet customer needs in new ways, but also provide comprehensive programming that will equip them with the tools to navigate through these uncertain times.”

Elevating entrepreneurs’ voices

The intensive, hands-on learning experience will be open to 150 small business owners who are new to e-commerce. It will run over the course of five months, beginning in September 2021. This timeframe will ensure that participants receive support with holiday marketing and promotions. They will also get technical support in all aspects of managing holiday orders.

Technical support, order fulfillment and initial hosting of their online stores will be delivered in collaboration with 37 Oaks. 37 Oaks is a Chicago-based social enterprise. It helps small businesses owned by women and people of color prepare for distribution through diverse growth channels. At the end of the experience, participants will take what they have learned to launch their own online store. This new program builds upon the FedEx commitment to support businesses as they build out their e-commerce operations. FedEx has begun a collaboration with the SCORE Foundation to develop educational e-commerce resources for small business.

“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. “By offering access to resources and opportunities and providing tailored support, we can prepare these communities for future growth and ultimately develop more equitable economic opportunities for a diverse range of businesses.”

Program requirements

Cohort participants must not have an existing active e-commerce presence, currently produce and sell a packaged product (either shelf-stable, pre-packaged food or non-food general merchandise such as fashion, beauty or home décor), earn less than $500,000 in annual revenue and be willing to commit to full program participation. More details about the application process will be available in June. Additionally, you can sign up to be notified when the application is live here.

About FedEx Corp.

FedEx Corp. (NYSE: FDX) provides customers and businesses worldwide with a broad portfolio of transportation, e-commerce and business services. With annual revenue of $79 billion, the company offers integrated business solutions through operating companies competing collectively, operating collaboratively and innovating digitally under the respected FedEx brand. Consistently ranked among the world’s most admired and trusted employers, FedEx inspires its more than 570,000 team members to remain focused on safety, the highest ethical and professional standards and the needs of their customers and communities. FedEx is committed to connecting people and possibilities around the world responsibly and resourcefully, with a goal to achieve carbon-neutral operations by 2040. To learn more, please visit about.fedex.com.

About Accion Opportunity Fund

Accion Opportunity Fund works to create an inclusive, healthy financial system that supports the nation’s small business owners by connecting entrepreneurs to affordable capital, educational resources, coaching and networks. Through innovative partnerships and outreach strategies, we reach entrepreneurs of color, low-income entrepreneurs and women, who often lack access to the financial services they need to build and grow their businesses.

Interested in e-commerce? Read about how entrepreneurs pivoted their businesses to e-commerce during the pandemic.