John Deere partners with Advantage Capital to increase support for underrepresented entrepreneurs
Deere & Company will be entering a partnership as a limited investor in Advantage Capital's Empower the Change (EPC) growth fund, which provides entrepreneurs of colour access to capital in order to grow their businesses and create community wealth.
Deere's commitment to the fund as a lead investor is part of the company's broader objective of allocating $500 million within the next three years to identify and grow relationships with underrepresented and disadvantaged business enterprises, creating a more diverse and sustainable supplier network within the agriculture industry.
"John Deere is committed to strengthening underrepresented communities and creating equitable wealth within the agriculture industry," says Wallas Wiggins, vice president of global supply management and logistics for Deere. "This announcement supports our company's history of advocating for – and investing in – opportunities that advance social and economic change. We look forward to seeing the positive impact within the lives and livelihoods of the small suppliers the Empower the Change fund will help scale."
John Deere has placed an emphasis on working with partners across the country to create opportunities for communities previously under-engaged. In 2020, in partnership with the National Black Growers Council and the Thurgood Marshall Fund, Deere launched the LEAP Coalition focused on improving the livelihoods of black farmers. LEAP (legislation, education, advocacy, and production systems) works with organizations such as the Federation of Southern Cooperatives and the Center for Heirs Property to provide awareness, assistance, and legal help and counsel to help black and minority farmers gain a clear title to their land and ensure the long-term sustainability of their land. John Deere deploys a multi-faceted approach to funding which includes not only monetary investments in programs but resource support. John Deere's investments include funding to support the National Black Growers Council, The Federation of Southern Cooperatives, Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources and Related Sciences (MANRRS), Thurgood Marshall College Fund, and 1890 land-grant institutions such as North Carolina A&T.