REI Co-Op Launches Initiative To Help Founders Of Color Enter The Billion-Dollar Outdoor Industry
Photo Credit: REI

REI Co-Op Launches Initiative To Help Founders Of Color Enter The Billion-Dollar Outdoor Industry

If you’re a founder in the outdoor industry, this initiative is for you!

According to PR Newswire, REI Co-op has launched Path Ahead Ventures, including $30 million in 300 founders of color to start and scale their outdoor industry businesses.

“Path Ahead Ventures is an opportunity to collaborate with founders of color to create an outdoor industry where economic opportunity, success, and influence reflect the true diversity of people who love, protect and share life outside,” said Susan Viscon, REI senior vice president of corporate development and investment, in an official press release. “Partnering with founders to grow their businesses faster will also provide the opportunity for their innovations, perspectives, and ideas to influence the broader industry.”

After months of discussion with hundreds of founders, investors and industry and community leaders to better understand their current challenges, Path Ahead Ventures was born.

“Through Path Ahead Ventures, we are taking a founder’s first approach,” continued Dan Kihanya, REI director of corporate development, in the statement. “Our goal is to utilize the full extent of REI’s network and resources to build connections and create opportunities that benefit founders long-term in the most meaningful way.”

Per the news release, the outdoor industry is a $459.8 billion-dollar sector, yet people of color own only about one percent of retail brands.

Not only is REI launching this new program to help change this, but they’re also committed to adding a minimum of 200 new brands that are owned or operated by people of color to its roster by 2030. Their goal is to generate $1 billion in cumulative sales, representing more than 15 percent of brands sold at REI.

To reach this goal, REI will create pathways for both new and small brands to access and navigate the co-op’s buying process while simultaneously growing the representation of diverse entrepreneurs in the industry.

Click here for more Path Ahead Ventures.