As Whole Planet Foundation (WPF) continues to grow and we gain fans on Facebook, Twitter and outside the four walls of Whole Foods Market (WFM), it’s hard to keep everyone up to date with what the Foundation is doing. Recently, I was asked by a fan on Facebook if I could provide her with more information on the Foundation … this is what I came up with.
Whole Planet Foundation was seeded in 2005 after Whole Foods Market CEO, John Mackey, decided, as a company, we need to do more. All stores donate and support organizations at a local level, but what about our global community? After meeting Muhammad Yunus, John formed WPF with the mission of alleviating poverty through microcredit around the world in those developing world communities that supply WFM with product. Currently there are 91 countries represented inside of a Whole Foods store, and we hope to reach as many as possible.
As of today, WPF has 55 projects in 48 countries, with our newest projects being in Brazil, Tanzania, and Burundi. The Foundation also provides microlening support in the United States: Queens & Brooklyn, New York, Omaha, Nebraska, and Indianopolis, Indiana.
Whole Planet Foundation supports 92% women borrowers and has provided loans to over 161,000 entrepreneurs. This has allowed us to provide a hand up to over 1,000,000 people – a huge milestone for the Foundation. To put our growth in perspective, in January 2011, we were funding projects in 30 countries. We have been able to grow very quickly – all thanks to the support from our fans, WFM shoppers and Team Members – all while maintaining a 97% repayment rate on all loans.
It’s pretty incredible actually. The poor aren’t stupid or lazy, they just lack the capital they need to start their own business. The want to work and they want more money and want more loans. With access to microloans, they might be able to afford clothes for their children, or education, or a tin roof instead of one made of mud and hay. It’s the beauty of microcredit.
Take a minute to watch the 2011 Whole Planet Founation Overview video, which I must admit, is already a little dated:
Do you have more questions? Want more detailed answers? Need help understanding something? Please, don’t hesistate to ask in the comments below.