I arrived to Curitiba and started my internship at the organization Alianca Empreendedora [more on this soon, it’s been great!]
But first I need to say: WALMART?!?!!?!
I saw my first Brazilian Walmart in Itu, but have since learned that there are quite a few here, and they are quite popular. My initial reaction was, “Great, expanding their empire to countries with whom their only previous contact was while they were overworking and underpaying them for their products.” [All this while flashes of the documentary The High Cost of Low Price, and my grandpa yelling “Walmart is ruining small town America!” while I grew up ran through my head]
So I was surprised to hear that the organization I’m working with [whose mission is to educate and support low-income entrepreneurs] hosts their e-commerce store through Walmart. The craziest part is that the site makes the central selling point that the products were made by hand, locally, often from recycled materials– listing the cooperative of entrepreneurs that made each product and showing pictures of the production process. Additionally, you can watch a video about the journey of the product from raw materials to being sold. The videos always end by telling you what percentage of the price was directed to the entrepreneurs, raw materials, transport, and the seller [in this case Walmart]. How’s that for transparency?!
Baffled, I thought this case must be a little blip on the Walmart radar. And then I ran across their meat, fruit, and vegetable initiative where they now imprint each product with a code that you can enter online to trace its origin. Here’s an example of a meat code where you get to see the farm name, the location on a google map, the date it was packaged, and photos of the farm and animals!
In the U.S. Walmart is all smiles and rollbacks; there aren’t any intiatives like this that I know about [do you?].
I don’t know who’s planning national company strategy for Brazil as compared to the U.S., but it’s certainly not the same person.