Walmart and Small Producers from the Developing World: Linking Demand with Supply

by: Ted London, Colm Fay

Publication Date: March 8, 2017
Length: 16 pages
Product ID#: 1-430-502

Core Disciplines: Base of the Pyramid, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, International Business, Operations Management/Supply Chain, Social Impact

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Teaching Note

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This case explores Walmart’s experience in incorporating small producers (women-owned or women-empowering artisan enterprises, and smallholder farmers) into its global supply chains. The case is written from the perspective of Kathleen McLaughlin, the president of the Walmart Foundation and chief sustainability officer at Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. This dual role gives her responsibility for exploring how best to link philanthropic activities with company resources to fulfill Walmart’s global social commitments while positively impacting business outcomes. The case opens with McLaughlin and her Walmart colleagues Kara Valikai and Chris Cochran contemplating the performance of both their Direct Farm and Empowering Women Together (EWT) programs, and how they might be enhanced going forward.

Teaching Objectives

After reading and discussing the material, students should:

  • Understand the opportunities and challenges inherent in engaging small producers with varying capacities in formal retail supply chains.
  • Understand how strategic objectives and prioritization across business and social objectives can influence outcomes.
  • Understand how to align internal capacities, external realities, and cross-organizational opportunities to enhance the opportunity for success in BoP markets.