As many small businesses face challenges during the coronavirus pandemic, Lowe’s is giving them a shot to get their products on its store shelves and website.
Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison said Tuesday on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” that the home improvement retailer is teaming up with Daymond John, a star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” to mentor entrepreneurs across diverse backgrounds, listen to their pitches and narrow the pool to standouts. The initiative will ultimately culminate in a one-day pitch competition judged by Lowe’s executives and hosted by John.
“Although we’re a big company, we’re fortunate to be classified as an essential business, we understand that the success of our broader macro economy is going to be the small businesses and the ability for small businesses to continue to grow and thrive,” Ellison said. “We understand that Covid-19 has created an incredible strain on the economic viability of many of these small businesses. We are, as a large company, doing our best to help.”
The home improvement retailer has committed $55 million towards small business grants to support minority-owned and women-owned businesses and rural small businesses — many of which have struggled as Covid-19 spread, shuttered stores and created economic uncertainty.
Ellison said Tuesday that the new effort was inspired by the outpouring of interest and great need. He said Lowe’s has gotten over 800,000 applications for the grants since it began the program in May.
“The demand from this program led us to understand that there’s a lot more that we should be doing,” he said. “So we came up with an idea to try to get more products on our shelves and on Lowes.com that originate from diverse entrepreneurs.”
The new initiative is called “Making it… With Lowe’s.” Small businesses can apply for the contest from Sept. 15