New program launches to help small businesses in Birmingham

Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 5:56 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A new program to help small businesses in Birmingham thrive is now taking applications.

The application to join the accelerator program, LadderUp is open February 6 - March 6.

The program is curated by Birmingham-based company, Shipt.

A representative says LadderUp is looking to help established businesses owned by people of color and LGBTQ+ expand into e-commerce. They have set a goal of at least 50% LGBTQ+ and BIPOC participation in LadderUp.

“As a growing tech company that is putting food insecurity and equity at the forefront of its work, Shipt is proud to announce the launch of LadderUp,” said Kamau Witherspoon, CEO of Shipt. “Working with small businesses to build up their capabilities is a key part of our commitment to help create healthier, more resilient and equitable communities. We recognize the unique role that we can play in both combating hunger in under-resourced communities and boosting small, local retailers that are so vital to communities across our country.”

“We want to help level the playing field,” said Khadijah Abdullah, Shipt’s VP of Economic Development and Social Impact.  “We all experienced a global pandemic and some of the businesses that were able to thrive were individuals who were already savvy in navigating the e-commerce, online space to be able to  bring their customers to them regardless of where they were located.”

There are nearly 20,000 small businesses in Birmingham, according to the Small Business Association.

The LadderUp accelerator is looking for grocery/beverage stores,  health, beauty, and floral/gift retailers for the inaugural class.

“Our LadderUp program is for local businesses who might have brick-and-mortar space but might not have access to the e-commerce environment yet,” Abdullah said.

Shipt is partnering with Shopify for the program.

Businesses that complete the course will be eligible for thousands in grant money.

Birmingham is one of only five cities chosen for the first round of the program, alongside Atlanta, Detroit, Houston and Washington, D.C.

WBRC is told up to 10 cities will be selected for the program.

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