Whole Planet Foundation

Whole Planet Foundation, the nonprofit organization founded by Whole Foods Market, seeks to alleviate poverty in communities around the world that supply Whole Foods stores. All of the Foundation’s overhead costs are covered by Whole Foods Market, meaning 100 percent of donations go straight to community micro-lending programs.

According to the Kiva organization, “microfinance is a general term to describe financial services to low-income individuals or to those who do not have access to typical banking services.”

Microfinance encompasses a wide array of services, such as credit, savings and small loans services. Whole Planet Foundation focuses on the credit component of microfinance by supporting microfinance institutions that provide small business loans.

To ensure the efficacy and intentions of Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), Whole Planet Foundation conducts careful research. Field teams in each country first identify potential partners. After reviewing relevant information, the list of potential partners is shortened.

Each institution is visited in person by Regional Directors. The field visit allows the Foundation “to see first-hand the approach and practices of an MFI”. Once approved, MFIs are eligible to receive grants from the Whole Planet Foundation to service their clients.

The field visit allows the Foundation “to see first-hand the approach and practices of an MFI”. Once approved, MFIs are eligible to receive grants from the Whole Planet Foundation to service their clients.

The Whole Planet Foundation does not work with government-run MFIs which they have found to be “poorly run and corrupt”. The Foundation states that it has found “great success by working with MFIs with no government affiliation”.

At the same time, the Foundation acknowledges that microcredit is not a “silver bullet” that can address all the factors that contribute to global poverty. As the website notes, one loan doesn’t immediately lift a family out of poverty.

However, MFIs, when run correctly, can help people without jobs start and maintain their own businesses. MFIs give people the opportunity to invest in their own potential and create opportunities for themselves and their families.

Whole Planet Foundation currently supports over 1.3 million micro-entrepreneurs in 70 countries around the world. Of note, 87 percent of those reached globally are women. This investment has been met with success, boasting a repayment rate of 97 percent.

One entrepreneur who is benefitting from the program is a woman named Yajaris from Nicaragua. According to the Foundation, she heard about her local MFI, Pro Mujer Nicaragua, from a neighbor several years ago. She used micro credit loans as a way to expand her kiosk business. Yajaris added a variety of vegetables, drinks and cleaning supplies to her inventory.

Microloans also helped Yajaris to purchase a refrigerator and shelves on which to display the new items. Within just three years, according to Whole Planet Foundation, her kiosk doubled in size. Yajaris used her savings and an additional housing loan from Pro Mujer to build a two-room home. She rents out that property and is currently using the rental income to save up for another floor.

According to Kiva, the benefits of MFIs have been proven to go far beyond supporting small businesses. By providing people with opportunities to become self-sufficient, household economic welfare stabilizes, allowing families to better cope with the challenges they face. The success of female-run businesses, in particular, contributes to the increase in gender equality. As households succeed, communities can grow to become more empowered and educated.

Taylor Resteghini

Photo: Flickr

Poverty alleviation through microcredit is the Whole Planet Foundation’s mission. This foundation was created by the Whole Foods Market chain. It provides microcredit to different organizations in areas of Asia, Africa, the Americas and the Middle East. These organizations, in turn, offer loan programs, training and financial services that provide help to self-employed people living under poor conditions.

According to the Whole Planet Foundation’s website, they are currently supporting more than 1,000,000 micro-entrepreneurs in around 60 countries throughout the world.

Partnerships are an important pillar of the foundation because they help support these micro-entrepreneurs. The foundation has microfinance partners, supplier partners, collaborating partners, custom contributions and musicians for microcredit.

The foundation’s microfinance partners are the ones in the field. These foundations are located across the globe in places such as Honduras and China.

The Adelante Foundation in Honduras, Aga Khan Foundation in Ivory Coast, Association Costa Rica Grameen in Costa Rica, Banco do Povo Credito Solidario in Brazil, Banigualdad in Chile, CASHPOR in India, CAURIE in Senegal, Chamroeun Microfinance Limited in Cambodia, Entrepreneurs du Monde in Togo, INMAA in Morocco, KOMIDA in Israel, Pro Mujer in Argentina, Bolivia, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru and the Women and Family Development Fund in Laos are some of the microfinance partners that the Whole Planet Foundation works with.

On the other side, the foundation’s supplier partners have donated millions in order to advocate for the Whole Planet Foundation’s mission. These partners support the foundation’s mission through different fund programs: the $100,000 Fund, the Supplier Alliance, the Poverty is Unnecessary Fund, the Ten Thousand Dollar Fund and the Microloan a Month Fund.

The partners supporting the $100,000 Fund are Frontier Co-op, Living On One, Papyrus-Recycled Greeting and Whole Foods Market.

The Supplier Alliance, the Poverty is Unnecessary Fund, the Ten Thousand Dollar Fund and the Microloan a Month Fund are supported by different organizations like Alaffia, Allegro Coffee, Amazing Grass, Blue Avocado, Garden of Life, Hain Celestial, Organic India, Suja Juice, Greyston Bakery, Rainbow Light, Chavez for Charity, Teatulia and Gourmet Guru, among others.

The foundation also has a scan-back program in which Whole Foods Market supplier partners can donate a part of their sales to the Whole Planet Foundation. According to the foundation’s website, they have more than 600 suppliers in this program.

The Whole Planet Foundation’s collaborating partners are organizations that help to increase the foundation’s reach, potency and success. A Glimmer of Hope, Aldea Artisans, My Social Canvas, The Rainforest Alliance and Valley Credit Union are some of the collaborating organizations of the foundation.

The custom contributors collect sources that help the Whole Planet Foundation support poverty alleviation. Some of their contributors are Aurora University, Hand in Hand Soap, Pura Vida Bracelets, Barefoot Wine, Crafted Peru and FedEx Office, among others.

Another way for the Whole Planet Foundation to support poverty alleviation is through the use of music. The foundation partners with musicians that are advocating for poverty alleviation and empowering entrepreneurship around the world.

Musicians like Rocky Dawuni, Aziza & the Cure, Patrick Bradley and Tiffany Parker are donating part of their album sales to the foundation.

If the general public wants to get involved and support the Whole Planet Foundation mission, they should know that fundraising is an option. People can create a fundraising campaign page in order to support entrepreneur communities around the world, and spread the word to their family, friends and colleagues.

Partnerships are an important aspect and pillar of the Whole Planet Foundation. These partnerships have helped the organization to support poverty alleviation throughout the world and use entrepreneurship as a crucial way to target poverty.

Diana Fernanda Leon

Sources: Whole Planet Foundation 1, Whole Planet Foundation 2, Whole Planet Foundation 3, Whole Planet Foundation 4, Whole Planet Foundation 5, Whole Planet Foundation 6, Whole Planet Foundation 7, Whole Planet Foundation 8, Whole Planet Foundation 9
Photo: Whole Planet Foundation