Women-run businesses to get boost from Wal-Mart initiative

BENTONVILLE, Ark. — Wal-Mart Stores on Wednesday launched initiatives intended to help women around the globe in the next five years.

The retail giant has spent the last year developing a plan — with help from both governmental and nongovernmental organizations and philanthropic groups — which will direct $20 billion over a five-year period on goods and services from U.S. businesses owned by women, as well as double the amount it pays women-run suppliers overseas.

Human resources issues and training for women will receive Wal-Mart’s attention, as it will offer skill-set training for 60,000 female factory workers employed by Wal-Mart suppliers and other merchants. Life skills, such as punctuality and financial literacy, will be taught as well.

"We know this is important for our customers, and it will make for a stronger business," Wal-Mart EVP Leslie Dach told the Associated Press on Tuesday.

Wal-Mart also said it plans to work with its suppliers that have more than $1 billion in sales to increase the representation of women and members of minority groups by the end of 2016.