(CNN)It’s no secret that minority entrepreneurs haven’t gotten a fair shake from big corporate brands.
On Tuesday, Lowe’s (LOW) announced it is partnering with Daymond John, star of ABC’s “Shark Tank,” in an effort to help change that. They’re inviting minority entrepreneurs and other owners of diverse small businesses to apply for a chance to pitch their products to Lowe’s executives and win some shelf space in the home improvement giant’s stores. Lowe’s defines diverse small businesses as at least 51% owned, operated and controlled by minorities, women, veterans, the disabled or those who are LGBTQ.Brands have been ignoring people of color for too long. He's on a mission to change thatThe idea is to help streamline the process and let these business owners make their case directly to Lowe’s executives with the help of John, who is also the founder of hip hop apparel company FUBU.Read More”Lowe’s is giving these minority-owned businesses a much-deserved chance to shine while uncovering unique, smart products that will make Lowe’s shelves even more appealing to customers,” John said.Normally, it could take a business years to get its products in front of key executives at a big retailer, he told CNN Business. And, he joked, “The best thing about this is that unlike on Shark Tank, you’re pitching directly to [Lowe’s] executives. They’re not trying to be like Kevin O’Leary and get a royalty for life [by taking a stake in your company.]”The company said it’s looking for startup suppliers of both traditional and non-traditional home improvement products, including farm equipment, antimicrobial protection, innovations for accessible living, home gardening and home décor.Entrepreneurs can apply between September 15 and September 25. From the general pool of applicants, Lowe’s will identify up to 375 businesses for consideration and placement of their products on a Lowe’s shelf, whether online or in-store. From that group Lowe’s will then select 75 applicants to submit their stories by video and possibly receive marketing or mentoring assistance. Five of them will then be invited to a one-day virtual pitch challenge hosted by John, who will also mentor the finalists before they make their presentation to Lowe’s CEO Marvin R. Ellison and other executives. The ultimate winner of the challenge will receive the most marketing help and strategic placement of its products at the home improvement retailer.Finalists will be announced and featured on Lowes.com later this year. Some other major companies have recently made efforts to promote minority businesses as well. Sephora, for instance, pledged to dedicate 15% of its shelf space to products from Black-owned businesses. Johnson & Johnson has invested in Sunday II Sunday, a Black-owned hair care products company.