Self-employed poor in Africa, Asia and Latin America get much needed funds and support to build sustainable businesses.
Many people believe that locally owned, small businesses are the backbone of a sustainable global economy. To that end, Whole Foods Market has created the Whole Planet Foundation, a non-profit which helps struggling small business owners in developing nations grow their business in a sustainable way.
According to Whole Foods Market, the Whole Planet Foundation was born out of a desire to give something back to the world community while focusing on the persistent problem of world poverty and hunger.
The foundation was first developed by Whole Foods Market in partnership with Professor Muhammad Yunus, a recipient of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Yunus is the founder of Bangladesh’s Grameen Bank, and a pioneer of microcredit, which has proven a successful tool for empowering the poor.
Through microfinance institutions like Grameen Bank, the Whole Planet Foundation provides grants, loans and other types of support and assistance to those who are self-employed, yet still live in poverty. These small loans – usually $200 or less – require no collateral or contract, and are offered to the poorest of the poor. Many of the loans focus on women, who struggle to finance projects that will generate income.
The foundation operates primarily in Africa, Asia and Latin America, where Whole Foods Market sources many of the products carried in its stores. The foundation gives particular priority to projects that can demonstrate financial leverage and financial sustainability over time.
The creation of The Whole Planet Foundation represents a significant expansion of the Whole Foods Market mission to incorporate active community involvement into their business. The foundation directly connects Whole Foods Market customers and employees to the villages that supply products to local stores. The company hopes the establishment of these community partnerships will, over time, build economic well being where source products are gathered. And that’s a good step toward a sustainable global economy.