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Macy’s, Dick’s Pour Millions Into ‘Social Purpose’

Macy’s and Dick’s Sporting Goods are entering a new arena—capital funding.

Macy’s has launched a new funding program known as S.P.U.R. Pathways: Shared Purpose, Unlimited Reach, which aims to advance entrepreneurial growth, close wealth gaps and break systemic barriers often holding back diverse-owned and underrepresented businesses. The department store retailer launched the program in partnership with Momentus Capital, a financial organization offering direct lending, impact investing and training and mentorship for small business owners and other groups.

Dick’s Sporting Goods’ new DSG Ventures, on the other hand, offers a $50 million in-house fund that will invest in innovative companies focused on promoting sports-related big ideas. DSG Ventures will initially focus on companies that directly serve athletes and their communities, or that help the retailer better serve its own consumers.

Through Macy’s $30 million investment, S.P.U.R. Pathways is expected to represent up to $200 million in access to critical funding for underrepresented businesses and will feature a range of financing options such as growth equity capital, or loans for working capital and commercial real estate. It will also provide a full suite of educational resources, fueling a holistic supplier ecosystem and acting as a catalyst for outsized growth.

“S.P.U.R. Pathways: Shared Purpose, Unlimited Reach is dedicated to shaping the future of U.S. retail. Macy’s, Inc. has promoted underrepresented businesses and entrepreneurs for more than a decade and furthers that commitment today, pushing the U.S. retail industry to a new era,” Macy’s, Inc. chairman and CEO Jeff Gennette said in a statement. “As part of our social purpose platform, Mission Every One, this investment will provide access to capital resources that will advance the next generation of brands and service providers. By investing in high-growth underrepresented businesses at all stages of growth, we intend to create meaningful economic impact within our communities, while serving our customers.”

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The Macy’s endeavor comes as a lack of substantial capital deployment remains a persistent obstacle to underrepresented businesses’ success. In 2021, startups with at least one Black founder only had access to 1.3 percent of total venture capital dollars invested in the U.S., according to Crunchbase data.

“With Macy’s, Inc., we have a unique opportunity to offer underrepresented businesses the resources to grow in a more equitable environment,” said Raymond Guthrie, chief investment officer and head of capital deployment for Virginia- and California-headquartered Momentus Capital. “The Macy’s, Inc. supplier ecosystem provides access to comprehensive tools, industry experts, educational resources, and now with funding through our collaboration and the formation of S.P.U.R. Pathways: Shared Purpose, Unlimited Reach, creates an unparalleled opportunity within the retail industry. Access to capital and expertise fuels mutual growth and fosters wealth creation and entrepreneurship within historically underfunded communities.”

Over the next five years, Macy’s, Inc. is investing a total of $30 million, including a $20 million investment in its own supplier access fund, and an additional $10 million investment, projected to provide approximately $100 million in capital for diverse-owned and underrepresented growth-stage businesses. A third channel creates a pipeline to a Momentus Capital loan program anticipated to provide up to $100 million in capital access to businesses at various stages of development.

Macy’s supplier ecosystem offers opportunities for mentorship through The Workshop at Macy’s, a retail development program that has empowered more than 200 diverse-owned brands. The ecosystem also enables budding brands to build out strategic relationships with national advocacy organizations.

In addition to financing through S.P.U.R. Pathways, businesses will have access to necessary tools and new opportunities to progress through various growth stages. This includes an advisory network of entrepreneurs around the country for strategic growth advice and help with credit improvement, business plans, financial reporting, daily operating challenges, business strategy, opportunity evaluation, and other personalized services.

Advisory services through S.P.U.R. Pathways will also provide access to additional training and resources, including professional services, business templates, technology and software development tools, as well as online and in-person workshops focused on the specific needs and industry of each participating diverse-owned enterprise.

The program is an extension Mission Every One social purpose program Macy’s introduced earlier in 2022 will direct as much as $5 billion of the company’s spend through 2025, to the partners, products, people, and programs that help create a more equitable and sustainable future.

DSG Ventures ties in current partners

Like Macy’s, Dick’s Sporting Goods built DSG Ventures to help companies grow by providing them with support and resources that extend beyond capital. This includes some of the differentiation points within the Dick’s business, including distribution reach, expertise in retail, operational excellence and its relationship with pro athletes and consumers alike.

DSG Ventures’ initial investments include women’s basketball performance footwear brand Moolah Kicks, online sporting goods marketplace SidelineSwap, secondhand outdoor gear platform Out&Back Outdoor, youth sports company EL1 Sports and sports and media venture capital firm Courtside Ventures.

“The investment by Dick’s Sporting Goods, coupled with our distribution partnership, has propelled the Moolah Kicks brand from a basketball startup to a category pioneer with a national footprint,” said Natalie White, founder and CEO of Moolah Kicks. “We could not be more encouraged by Dick’s Sporting Goods’ continued commitment to providing performance products specifically for female athletes.”

Both SidelineSwap and Out&Back Outdoor are currently helping Dick’s Sporting Goods expand its horizons in resale. The sporting goods giant is teaming with SidelineSwap to host a series of 50 new trade-in events in seven states through the end of the year, and launched buyback programs with Out&Back in several Dick’s stores.

“We’re excited to further expand our partnership with Dick’s,” said Sideline co-founding CEO Brendan Candon, in a statement. “Their investment underscores our shared commitment to sustainability and increasing access to sports. As the market leader in sporting goods, Dick’s provides us with an incredible platform to grow our resale program and reach tens of millions of new athletes.”

DSG Ventures is also working with innovation advisory VentureFuel on a Retail Innovation Program to identify startups to collaborate with Dick’s Sporting Goods on a pilot program around enhancing the customer experience. The pilot covers any area of the customer experience from e-commerce to in-store experience to AI.