New York, NY/Bentonville, AR – Walmart and Citi are collaborating to introduce the Bridge built by Citi platform (“Bridge”) to Walmart’s 10,000 small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) in their US-based supplier network. Bridge is a digital platform that connects SMBs with a diverse group of more than 70 lenders that provide qualifying businesses with loans of up to $10 million.
Through a single loan request form, Walmart suppliers can interact with a broad group of lenders located across the United States. Once a request is submitted, the platform seamlessly connects suppliers with multiple potential lenders that can evaluate their requests. This provides for a more efficient loan process for both the suppliers and lenders and empowers suppliers by offering them greater choice, convenience, and access to capital. It also provides lenders with the potential to expand their reach beyond their immediate local market and diversify their lending businesses. In preparation for this launch, the platform’s lender base has grown from 18 banks in 2021 to more than 70 lenders nationwide currently on the platform.
“At Walmart, we know small- and medium-sized businesses are the engine that drives the U.S. economy and local communities. Many diverse owned businesses also fit the small- and medium-sized business profile. As such we stand to strengthen our longstanding Supplier Inclusion offering through this specific opportunity,” said Jason Fremstad, Senior Vice President of Supplier Development at Walmart. “By leveraging the platform, our suppliers can have better access to the funding they need to expand their operations to reach and surpass their goals. Greater access to capital will help our suppliers continue to provide the products that our customers are looking for.”
Working capital loans, commercial mortgages and other pre-shipment financing loans are among the potential loans extended by some of the lenders on the platform. Walmart has programs that help with post-shipment financing, but Bridge built by Citi has the potential to expand options available to qualifying suppliers.
Bridge was developed to provide more inclusive access to capital while supporting innovative, digital-first solutions for SMBs. “Many small and medium-sized business owners don’t have a network of existing bank relationships – especially those operating in underrepresented communities,” said Rohit Mathur, Head of the Bridge built by Citi platform. “Bridge offers a modern and efficient way for Walmart’s U.S. suppliers to navigate the lending process and cultivate relationships with multiple lenders while helping them gain access to the capital that is essential for them to grow.”
In preparation for engaging Walmart’s supplier network, Citi focused on increasing the number of Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs) on the platform. Of the more than 70 lenders currently participating on the Bridge built by Citi platform, more than 20 are MDIs and four are women-owned institutions. In addition, 15 of the 20 Black-owned banks in the U.S. are lenders on the platform. Citi and Walmart are proud to help introduce suppliers to financial institutions that are committed to serving their communities and promoting racial and gender equity.
M&F Bank in North Carolina has used the platform to source opportunities to lend hundreds of thousands of dollars to businesses they would not have found otherwise. “We’re proud to be part of a platform that enables us to connect with our target market in a more intentional and efficient way and are excited to now extend our reach to Walmart’s extensive supplier network,” says M&F Bank CEO James Sills. “By growing and diversifying our business mix, Bridge enables us to make even more of a positive impact on the communities we serve.”
In addition to the introduction of Bridge built by Citi to Walmart suppliers, Walmart and Citi will also collaborate to provide suppliers with educational content to increase financial literacy.
“At Citi, we are focused on delivering innovative solutions that create value for our clients and contribute to a more inclusive and efficient financial ecosystem. This includes our collaborations with clients and partners such as Walmart to identify optimal paths for the solutions we are creating,” says Emily Turner, Head of Business Development, Institutional Clients Group at Citi.
Note: Neither Walmart nor Citi have any influence in lending decisions, nor do they participate as lenders on the platform. Bridge helps to facilitate the establishment of an independent relationship between a prospective borrower and one or more lenders.