Sears Holdings reaches out to African-American entrepreneurs

HOFFMAN ESTATES, Ill. — Kmart operator Sears Holdings is emphasizing a program that it said is designed to empower African-American entrepreneurs.

The company said it would continue its "Share the Word?" program through 2012, its fifth year, and focus on African-American entrepreneurs with the Own a Sears Store program.

According to census data, the number of African-American-owned businesses increased at triple the national rate over the past five years, while a recent study by the Small Business Administration found that African-Americans are 50% more likely to start a business than any other racial or ethnic group.

Through the Own a Sears Store program, the company offers training and support for retail franchise concepts, such as Sears Appliance Showrooms, Sears Appliance & Hardware Stores and Sears Auto Centers.

"The desire and interest in owning a business is huge among African-Americans; and, in terms of sheer number, black-owned businesses are one of the fastest growing segments of our economy," Black Enterprise magazine SVP and editor-at-large Alfred Edmond said in a statement on behalf of Sears Holdings.