Open Letter to McDonald’s and Walmart on Entrepreneurship in Low-Income Communities

The following is part of an “open letter” project by MBA students at the Presidio Graduate School in the Capital Markets Spring 2012 class.

A message to Mike Duke, President & CEO of Walmart and Bob Langert, VP of Sustainability for McDonald’s.

As students evaluating the challenges facing microfinance institutions in the US, we realize that raising funds to support business-skills training and microloans is a challenge for many organizations, particularly in a difficult economy. Last year, Starbucks partnered with Opportunity Finance Network to start the Create Jobs for USA fund, in an effort to spur job growth.

The Opportunity Finance Network (OFN) is a membership organization of US community development financial institutions (CDFIs) that provide financial services to low-income, low-wealth, and other disadvantaged communities. Through the Create Jobs for USA fund, OFN provides grants to member organizations that are specifically focused on lending to aspiring entrepreneurs in low-income communities around the country. The Create Jobs for USA grants boost the impact of the community CDFIs by increasing the funds available for lending and entrepreneurial training. This supports a virtuous cycle of job creation in the community.

Both McDonald’s and Walmart support entry-level and job-growth opportunities through their retail locations, as well as through philanthropic activities. Both serve significant populations that continue to struggle with slow economic recovery. We suggest they help themselves by directing CSR focus on local jobs and entrepreneurship in the communities they serve.

The Create Jobs for USA fund is open to tax-deductible contributions from corporations as well as individuals. Walmart and McDonald’s can support the Create Jobs for USA fund in multiple ways, including:Indivisible wristband

  • Enable customers to contribute directly by selling “Indivisible” wristbands,
  • Provide a grant directly to the fund from corporate or employee payroll contributions, and
  • Match customers’/employees’ contributions.

Regardless of how they choose to participate, all contributed funds will be granted to community-based organizations working with individuals who want to start their own ventures, but lack training and start-up capital to do so.

Walmart, McDonald’s and other corporations that participate will improve their reputations in the community by publicly providing support for the Create Jobs for USA fund. As the economic prosperity of the community grows, their sales will be positively impacted as well.

Starbucks has received positive attention for its contributions to Create Jobs for USA, and OFN has made initial grants from the fund. We hope Walmart, McDonald’s and others will join in this effort to support local entrepreneurs and jobs.

Sincerely,

Elizabeth Krueger, Esther Spanjer, and Delise Weir

Students in Capital Markets, Presidio Graduate School

Images: CreateJobsforUSA.org, Starbucks