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Shipt Announces Launch of New Local Accelerator Program, LadderUp™, to Boost Small Businesses

Feb 6, 2023
Feb 6, 2023

Shipt Announces Launch of New Local Accelerator Program, LadderUp™, to Boost Small Businesses

Local retailers in Atlanta, Birmingham, Detroit, Houston and Washington, D.C are encouraged to apply to receive capital, e-commerce-focused technical assistance, and education from industry leaders.

Today, Shipt is thrilled to announce the launch of LadderUp, an innovative new accelerator program that will equip local retailers with tools needed to thrive in an ever-evolving marketplace. 

Last fall, we were honored to have our CEO Kamau Witherspoon invited to speak at the White House Conference on Hunger, Nutrition and Health where he announced a set of commitments to reduce food insecurity and increase access to nutritious foods. LadderUp follows through on one of those commitments by helping to expand access to food in underserved communities, particularly for those with mobility or transportation barriers. LadderUp was also designed to support local economies by helping local small businesses, especially ones owned by people of color, grow and compete. 

In our conversations with local retailers, we’ve heard from them that business owners face very real technology gaps and want to participate in e-commerce platforms to better serve their customers. We also know that research has indicated that small businesses, in particular Black business owners, suffered a greater loss in earnings coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. While overall businesses saw an earnings decrease of 5 to 17 percent from 2019 to 2020, Black business owners’ earnings dropped significantly more during this period, between 11 and 28 percent.

“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 Witherspoon. “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.”    

As part of our commitment to investing in programs focused on leveling the economic playing field for Black and other underrepresented populations in the communities we serve, our goal is to reach at least 50% LGBTQ+ and BIPOC participation in the program. 

LadderUp applications open starting today, February 6, through March 6, and small businesses in the following five cities can apply to be part of the program: Atlanta; Birmingham, AL; Detroit; Houston; and Washington, D.C. This opportunity is open to grocery/beverage, health, beauty, and floral/gifts retailers.

If selected, small business owners will go through an extensive 8 week course learning from retail industry leaders on driving sustainable growth, building financial foundation, building efficiency, marketing, e-commerce 101, using Shipt, and the basic legal knowledge needed to run a business. 

Upon program completion of the program, retailers will have in-depth industry knowledge to help them navigate and understand trends in the evolving e-commerce landscape. Additionally, for each participating retailer who completes the LadderUp program, Shipt will be providing $5,000 to help invest in their e-commerce.  Shopify, a leading e-commerce company partnering with Shipt to teach a course in the program, will provide access to their platform for a limited time at no cost to help retailers build an online storefront, streamline operations, and optimize inventory tracking. 

“At Shopify, our mission is to make commerce better for everyone,” said Crystal Hunt, Shopify Sr. Program Manager of Partnerships Diversity & Belonging.  “To achieve this mission we must bring more voices to entrepreneurship. Together with Shipt, we are reducing the unique barriers facing underrepresented business owners. Through this partnership we will create community and opportunity for the change makers, disruptors and creators of tomorrow, because we know the success of a single entrepreneur can create a legacy, power communities and inspire the world.”

Today’s announcement builds on existing work we’ve already done to support the communities we serve. In 2022, we awarded nearly $250,000 in microgrants to organizations who focused on food insecurity, economic disparities and youth workforce development. We’re proud to work with national partners such as Feeding America, American Red Cross and United Way to help our dollars go even further in the communities that need it the most. 

These actions can be traced back to our core values as a company to prioritize people, build relationships that last, and ensure our growth is aligned with our purpose. We believe LadderUp will make a meaningful difference in supporting the growth of small businesses and expanding access to food to underserved areas, and will continue to look for ways to improve the communities we are privileged to serve.

Interested in applying or know a local business that should? You can learn more and access the application at

About Shipt

Shipt is a retail tech company that connects people to reliable, high-quality delivery with a personal touch. Through the power of technology, Shipt connects customers to the things they want from the stores they love, workers to new earning opportunities, and retail businesses to more satisfied customers. Headquartered in Birmingham, Alabama, Shipt brings people the flexible solutions they need with the above-and-beyond service they expect. Shipt is an independently operated subsidiary of Target Corp. and available in more than 5,000 U.S. cities. For more information, please visit Shipt’s Newsroom.

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