April 28, 2021 at 06:59PM

Walmart said on Wednesday (April 28) that it is launching “an expanded early payment program” with an eye toward “supporting the long-term growth and success of diverse and minority-owned businesses.”

In a press release, the company said that the “new option launches with the goal of making access to working capital affordable, transparent and more equitable by offering qualified diverse or minority-owned suppliers faster payments” at its lowest rates.

The company said that it has “heard loud and clear from current and potential diverse suppliers that the biggest challenge to achieving growth is the ability to gain access to working capital.” As part of the new option, Walmart said it will link up with C2FO, which claims to have “the largest online platform for working capital.”

The release said that C2FO’s technology platform “enables suppliers to hand-select the invoices they would like to request early payments on. Walmart will independently fund this opportunity at the outset, with plans to team up with leading global and minority-owned banks to provide additional funding capabilities.” Walmart said that eligible businesses can start leveraging this new financing opportunity starting on May 3.

The importance of working capital looms large for small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs). Supplier Success Founder and CEO Louis Green recently spoke with PYMNTS about the topic. He emphasized that the biggest problem among viable businesses is their working capital needs.

During the pandemic and the rise of social justice movements over the last year, large corporations and financial institutions (FIs) have moved to promote the success of minority-owned businesses through initiatives like educational programs and the placement of money in minority-run banks. Nonetheless, said Green, organizations need to focus on working capital. “That’s the biggest indicator of success and longevity: working capital,” he said.

Walmart said that last year, it “sourced more than $13.1 billion in goods and services from diverse suppliers, and has committed $100 million over the next five years to the Walmart.org Center for Racial Equity.

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