Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

A Hand Up to Over Half a Million

Today we are launching our 2011 Whole Planet Foundation Prosperity Campaign and we hope you will join us! (Read on for a chance to win a trip to Peru to witness the benefits of microcredit firsthand.) It’s easy to donate either in our stores or donate online. You can also spread the word to your social network or start your own campaign. Together we can solve the persistent problem of world poverty and hunger! Whole Foods Market has funded over $7 million for Whole Planet Foundation and microlending projects. Shoppers have donated nearly $6 million to Whole Planet Foundation® in past campaigns. Whole Foods Market Team Members have donated $2 million through our paychecks and suppliers have donated $1.6 million for microcredit. With this support and through valued microfinance institution partners worldwide, Whole Planet Foundation has empowered 130,000 clients with microcredit loans in five years, supporting over half a million people in 30 countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America with a chance to escape poverty. Please join our 2011 campaign and give a hand up to 70,000 more people. This video explains what we do and why Whole Foods Market created Whole Planet Foundation.
And to help share the magic of microcredit, we are partnering with Intrepid Travel to give away a 10-day trip for two to Peru. Step back in time in the Sacred Valley, witness the glory of Machu Picchu and more on this 9-night/10-day adventure for 2 including airfare, accommodations, local transportation and select meals. You’ll meet Whole Planet Foundation-supported microcredit clients and partners in the field to see firsthand how your donation helps alleviate poverty worldwide. From mountains to jungle, seasides to great plains, you’ll experience Peru's incredible natural and historical highlights on this awesome adventure. Retrace the steps of the Incas to Machu Picchu, admire colonial cities, explore vibrant markets and meet the locals in this South American country with a difference. Return home with incredible memories of the panoramas and people of Peru.  Find out more about this tour at Intrepid Travel and click here to go to the contest entry page — must enter by March 31st (full rules on the contest page).

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Audrey says …

Having just finished reading "Half the Sky" I am so moved to learn that Whole Foods is supporting the effort to lift the burdens of poverty and injustice by empowering women through a microcredit program. Thank you for making it possible to participate in this life-changing effort.

Grace Kirby says …

I have a question regarding the micro-loan program I heard about today at my Whole Foods store. I remembered a story on NPR a while back about many micro-loan recipients committing suicide because they couldn't repay their high interest micro-loans. Just found the article @ NPR, dated 12/31/10, says 24-30% interest rates and hounding collectors are causing the suicides (and the life insurance attached to the loans)...prompting the Indian government to take action against the micro-loan programs. Is Whole Foods doing anything to monitor the end-user administration to prevent local loan sharks from preying on individuals? I support the idea of micro-loans, but I also don't want to cause the recipients harm.

Bepkom says …

@Grace: Thank you for your question. In order to assure the right partners with an appropriate methodology are selected, Whole Planet Foundation has a team of development professionals that live and travel throughout the developing world to conduct onsite due diligence and monitoring of our partners’ performance. This team conducts a site visit in order to select the microfinance partner and returns in person at least once during the grant period to monitor and evaluate, as well as conducting regular remote reviews. Whole Planet Foundation partners with Professor Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Trust in the state of Kerala which is not affected by the issues in Andhra Pradesh, India. The criticisms, like collection methods and interest rates of the Andhra Pradesh State Government are key factors that the Whole Planet Foundation programs team has looked at with all of our partners. The recent suicides in India are very unfortunate circumstances. Indeed these are not Whole Planet Foundation-supported borrowers as we partner only with global MFIs that share our philosophy and allow us absolute transparency into their practices and accounting for us to independently evaluate and monitor to guarantee that our borrowers are treated fairly and with respect. Suicide among the poor is rarely studied, but generally believed it is quite common and more prevalent than with the wealthier population. Being desperately poor is hard; life at that level surrounded by disease, malnutrition, daily backbreaking work for little pay, bleak outlook for change and death especially with the children are just some of the reasons depression leads to suicides. So, it is not surprising that some over-extended borrowers on top of everything else they have to deal with will chose suicide. A well run MFI takes great pain to make sure borrowers are not borrowing from multiple sources and that their credit load is manageable. However, as one can imagine, where money is involved, the unscrupulous abound. Our advice would be to ignore the sensationalist press reports always looking for the provocative. Thank you for supporting microcredit and for your thoughtful query.

pam says …

is this a 501c3 foundation, eligible for income tax deduction? if so, can you give me the info for my tax forms? i think it is great that you have set up this foundation to make these microloans to supply help to give the "poorest of the poor" a hand up, as opposed to a hand-out; like teaching a person how to fish, so to speak.