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Walmart.com Sells Goods Made by Women-Owned Small Businesses

Thursday, 7 Mar 2013 | 3:12 PM ET
Leticia started making gourmet fried plantains in her kitchen in Guatemala, and now she’s a successful Walmart supplier with a growing business.
Source: Wal-Mart
Leticia started making gourmet fried plantains in her kitchen in Guatemala, and now she’s a successful Walmart supplier with a growing business.

Wal-Mart, often associated with commoditized products packed inside brick-and-mortar stores, is debuting unique, global-chic products — ranging from cool jewelry to fair-trade organic coffee. And the nation's biggest retailer wants you to buy the goods online.

About 200 products from 19 women-owned small businesses from nine countries including the U.S., will be featured on Walmart.com, the company said Thursday in a release. The initiative, dubbed "Empowering Women Together," is debuting a day prior to International Women's Day, March 8.

The small-business owners featured have overcome challenges to become entrepreneurs. They've battled poverty, lack of education, domestic abuse and physical limitations, said Walmart in the release.

"Through Walmart's Empowering Women Together, customers can help these suppliers increase their incomes, better their lives and create new jobs for others, and Walmart can help these suppliers gain experience with buying trends, scaling, product development and acumen they need to build their businesses," Andrea Thomas, Walmart senior vice president, said in a prepared statement.

(Read more: How Mobile Technology Is Revolutionizing In-Store Shopping)

The women-themed initiative doesn't hurt PR. Walmart seems to be perennially shoring up its corporate image, often associated with low wages and a weak commitment to social issues. For example, the company earlier this year announced it will boost sourcing of U.S. products by $50 billion during the next 10 years.

From corporate citizenship to their supply chain, "we're seeing a different posture on these issues" from Walmart, said James Cerruti, senior partner for strategy and research at consulting firm Brandlogic.

The empowering women campaign features a variety of locally-made goods. Examples include a colorful purse for $15, made by a company founded by two sisters in Rwanda. Other items include organic chocolates bars, about $10 for three, which are certified by the Rainforest Alliance. The group supports biodiversity and farmers in their communities.

(Read more: Made in the USA: More Consumers Buying American)

By CNBC's Heesun Wee; Follow her on Twitter @heesunwee

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