Qurate Retail Group (parent company of HSN, QVC and Zulily) and the National Retail Federation Foundation are expanding their joint Small Business Spotlight (SBS) initiative to support 100 entrepreneurs of diverse backgrounds in 2021. Initially launched in May 2020 to help small businesses challenged by the COVID-19 pandemic, this year the program will expand to feature more companies with diverse leadership.
Adding this focus to the program reflects the huge shift toward value-based buying seen in 2020, driven by the pandemic and various social justice movements that shaped the year.
Small businesses across the country were deeply impacted by the economic fallout from COVID-19, and the Small Business Spotlight aims to aid in these companies’ evolution and recovery. More than 80% of the 20 businesses that participated in the first SBS initiative last spring reported increases in online sales and new customers, according to Qurate. The second phase of the program, conducted from August through October, featured 40 Black-owned businesses.
The small businesses selected to participate in the 2021 SBS program will receive on-air and/or social media exposure; profiles on QVC.com, HSN.com and Zulily; and PR support during heritage and recognition months throughout the year, including Black History Month (February), Women’s History Month (March), National Military Appreciation Month (May), Pride Month (June), National Hispanic Heritage Month (September), and National Disability Employment Awareness Month (October). Participating businesses also will have the opportunity to participate in a virtual mentorship program with Qurate team members.
“Our brands’ reach across traditional linear TV, digital platforms, and social media-based livestreaming is unrivalled and gives us an extraordinary ability to bring together large communities of highly engaged shoppers around shared interests,” said Mike George, President and CEO of Qurate Retail in a statement. “Through the Small Business Spotlight, we are extending our impact far beyond the many entrepreneurial businesses in our vendor base. We’re proud to offer special support to local small businesses and their communities.”
The application period for the 2021 Small Business Spotlight runs through Feb. 26, 2021. To qualify, a business must employ 100 or fewer workers, be at least 51% owned by an entrepreneur of a diverse background, and have an ecommerce capability and social media presence. The businesses set to be featured for Black History Month and Women’s History Month already have been selected.
“Given the many challenges posed by 2020, the Small Business Spotlight program created a lifeline for small businesses like mine,” said April McClung, owner of Emily’s Heirloom Poundcakes in Birmingham, Ala. in a statement “We were able to reach millions of customers across the country who would have never known about us with our unique brand story. The exposure and support generated increased sales and engagement that turned our year around. During a period of so many unknowns and hardships for the small business community, it was truly inspiring to experience this support and encouragement firsthand.”