Rei Co-op, an outdoorwear retailer, has launched Path Ahead Ventures. It plans to invest 30,000,000 dollars in 300 entrepreneurs of color to help them start and grow their businesses in the outdoors industry.
In an effort to increase inclusivity and welcome all, the brand will partner with Black, Indigenous and Latinx entrepreneurs.
Rei gathered information from investors, founders and other industry leaders over months to identify current industry challenges and opportunities that it could share with participants. The programme will be focused on four areas: customer connection, community network, capability, infrastructure, customer connections, and capital investment.
“Path Ahead Ventures offers the opportunity to work with founders of color to create an outdoor sector where economic opportunity and success reflect the true diversity among people who love, protect, and share life outside,” stated Susan Viscon (Rei’s senior vice-president of corporate development and investments) in a statement.
She said, “Partnering alongside founders will help them grow their businesses faster. It will also give them the chance to share their innovative perspectives and ideas with the wider industry.”
Further, the label stated that it intends to add at most 200 brands to its portfolio by 2030. This is in addition to its overarching goal to generate one billion dollars cumulatively and represent more than 15% of brands sold at Rei.
The scheme consists of two programmes, each supporting founders at different points in their journey. Embark will support early-stage ideas to turn them into viable business models. While Navigate focuses on existing founders and scaling their businesses,
The brand announced that founders of color are only one percent of the 459.8 trillion dollar outdoor industry. Path Ahead Ventures was created as part of the brand’s efforts to “advance racism, diversity, and inclusion and become an inclusive, antiracist multicultural organisation.”