Abbott's New Collaboration Looks at Diversity & Equity Gaps

The Abbott Park, IL-based company is partnering with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation to provide diverse small businesses with support.

MDDI Staff

March 30, 2022

2 Min Read
Image courtesy of Ana Baraulia / Alamy Stock Photo

Only 19% of U.S. businesses are owned by people of color and 21% are owned by women, despite representing 40% and more than half the population, respectively, according to U.S. Census Bureau statistics.

However, many owners of these diverse businesses are unable to access loans to grow their businesses. In the healthcare supply chain, the small businesses that comprise it do not reflect the diversity of the communities they serve – which reflects a broader diversity gap in businesses across America.

Abbott Laboratories is tackling this issue head-on through a collaboration with the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC).

The collaboration can be described as a $37.5 million plan to provide diverse small businesses with support.

Here’s how the funding is broken down. Abbott will contribute $25 million to the initiative, including $12.5 million in loan capital and $12.5 million in grants to LISC. From there, LISC is matching the investment with an additional $12.5 million in loan capital.

"We're committed to tearing down the barriers that diverse small-business owners often face, and to building a more inclusive supply chain in healthcare," said Robert Ford, chairman, and CEO, Abbott. "Our new initiative with LISC takes real, pragmatic steps to make that happen."

The funding will help support these businesses in three ways:

1. Growth capital: With Abbott grant support, LISC will provide interest-free capital to help businesses overcome hurdles to expansion, such as investing in management systems to comply with regulatory and environmental requirements. Businesses will repay LISC if and when they meet certain growth targets.

2. Business loans: Abbott and LISC funding will provide flexible, affordable loans with terms that would not typically be available through conventional lenders.

3. Technical assistance: An Abbott grant will support LISC in providing customized support to businesses accessing capital and loans through the initiative, including help with fulfilling investment and loan requirements and identifying and addressing specific business barriers to growth.

"This partnership is a shared investment in the future of our communities and the strength of our supply chains," said LISC CEO Lisa Glover. "We're proud to partner with Abbott to deliver capital and technical services that enhance the infrastructure for small business growth, so owners from diverse backgrounds are better able to compete for contracts, hire more staff, and fuel economic opportunity in the communities where they operate."

The partnership is part of Abbott’s 2030 Sustainability Plan, which aims to advance health access and equity through partnership and build a diverse, resilient and responsible supply chain – with specific targets to increase overall spending with diverse and small businesses 50% by 2030 and with Black- and women-owned businesses 150% by 2025.

The work also supports LISC's Project 10X, which bridges racial health, wealth and opportunity gaps throughout the country. The initiative helps break down historical and systemic barriers by investing in businesses, community organizations, developers and projects that are driven by and for communities of color.



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