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Walmart wins a 2021 Alexander Hamilton Award in the category Working Capital Management: Partner Impact

The world’s biggest retailer works with a large number of much smaller companies. In fact, more than two-thirds of Walmart’s 18,000 suppliers are small and midsize businesses (SMBs). “We see tremendous value in our relationships with our small and midsize suppliers, and we are always looking to strengthen that pipeline,” says Brandy Newhof, senior director of global treasury for Walmart.

The need to support small and midsize suppliers became particularly important last year, at the onset of the global pandemic. “Covid-19 was impacting many of our suppliers,” Newhof says. “Some faced local government restrictions on work conditions. Others faced hardships such as employees taking sick time or caring for loved ones who contracted the virus. We determined that our smaller suppliers were most at risk in that environment. On top of that, access to capital was nearly nonexistent for a lot of these companies. We started getting a few requests for changes to payment terms from suppliers in need.”

John Furner, president and CEO of Walmart U.S., and Kath McLay, president and CEO of Sam’s Club, jointly wrote a blog post that put it this way: “This is a difficult time for … the companies who produce the products we sell on our shelves and websites. Capital is increasingly maxed for some suppliers as their business models change and shift.”

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Meg Waters

Meg Waters is the editor in chief of Treasury & Risk. She is the former editor in chief of BPM Magazine and the former managing editor of Business Finance.

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