2021 Year in Review: An Update from Daniel Zoltani, Global Programs Director

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Photo at the top of this post: Near East Foundation visits with a client of the newly formed Siraj Center in Jordan. Near East Foundation is one of Whole Planet Foundation’s newest microfinance partners.

A man wearing a mask in a boat

Daniel Zoltani, Global Programs Director for Whole Planet Foundation visiting a potential new WPF partner, Eskala, in the Darien Gap, Panama.

2021 was a challenging year for people living in poverty. Food insecurity, job losses, and other crises continue to have an outsized impact on those with limited access to resources. Whole Planet Foundation remains focused on our mission to alleviate poverty by funding financial opportunities for underserved entrepreneurs. Now more than ever, our implementing partners and the entrepreneurs they serve are facing threats to their wellbeing. Whole Planet Foundation is committed to serving these communities by continuing to provide resources during this difficult time.

Operational Challenges for Microfinance Institutions

Due to the challenges microfinance providers have faced throughout the COVID-19 crisis, one of their highest priorities has been to access funding for their programs.  Having sufficient cash on hand to meet obligations and continue operations has been key to our microfinance partners’ survival. The impact of COVID-19 continues to dominate WPF partners’ priorities, as countries contend with second and third waves of the virus. Vaccinations have started to roll out across the world, providing some relief, but the uptake is slow due to availability issues, misinformation, and hesitancy.

Despite these challenges, Whole Planet Foundation is committed to supporting our network of implementing partners and pushing forward our pipeline of potential future investments.  The remote review tools our field team has been using for over a year continues to help us move forward with project disbursements and new proposals for funding to established partners. Moreover, the field team is slowly picking up international travel again, as we look to add new partners to a growing portfolio of diverse organizations and local-led approaches. After 18+ months of experience navigating the uncertainties of COVID, many of our partners have also developed more nuanced tools to respond to client needs and are now seeking to expand their services.

WPF’s Americas & Caribbean Regional Director visited long-time partner, Fundación Paraguaya, in November 2021, following Covid safety protocols throughout the trip.

New Projects and Future Plans

Whole Planet Foundation plans to celebrate nearly $7 million disbursed through 51 projects in 39 countries by the end of 2021. We added many new projects including a $300,000 grant to GGEM for farmers in Malawi to have better access to quality farming inputs, $300,000 to support Fundación Paraguaya expand their collateral-free group loan and $150,000 to support our first project in Jordan with Near East Foundation.  In addition, we added two new partners in the United States, MercyCorps Northwest and People’s Partner Community Development, helping small business owners start and expand their business across Washington and Oregon and the within the Cheyenne territory in Lame Deer, Montana.

WPF funds new project with GGEM Malawi to offer technical support and aggregation services for smallholder farmers.

Thank you for your ongoing support of Whole Planet Foundation’s mission, the implementing partners we work with, and the entrepreneurs we serve. With hope and gratitude, we close 2021 and are preparing to continue our work in the new year.

Warmly,

Daniel Zoltani, Global Programs Director – Whole Planet Foundation

 

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