Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

One Woman’s Story – Aracely Cruz

I recently traveled to Estelí, Nicaragua to fulfill one portion of my job as the Development Associate for Whole Planet Foundation, Whole Foods Market’s non-profit that supports microlending programs in countries and communities where we source products. Microcredit is small loans given to the poorest of the poor, with a focus on women, so that they can invest in their own businesses and pull themselves out of poverty over time. I was on a mission to meet with the women we are supporting through this microlending program to discover if we are having an impact. Does microlending work? What is being done with the microloans? To learn more, I spent time with the women (and some men), in their homes and visiting their businesses. Our partner on the ground, Pro Mujer, a microfinance institution, has long standing relationships with these communities and due to that strong friendship, I was welcomed by the individuals we support. One of the women I met with, Aracely Cruz, runs a cake business out of her very modest home. Until recently, she did not qualify to receive a loan from a traditional bank and without cash, she didn’t have a way to grow her business which is the sole source of income for her and her four children. One of the true values of microlending programs, is that they don’t require collateral or request that the individuals sign a contract. When Aracely learned about Pro Mujer, she was brave enough to take out a loan of $150. The funds have enabled her to buy greater quantities of ingredients for her cakes and she increased her production from 10 to 55 cakes per week. Aracely told me about her plans to move her wood burning oven into her home and repair the dilapidated walls in her house with profits from her cake business. Extreme poverty is evident in Aracely’s neighborhood –we saw children dig through landfills looking for small pieces of metal to sell for extra money- so Aracely’s success with microcredit has given real hope to her family and peers. Aracely expressed her gratitude for the opportunity to take out a loan without having any collateral. She is determined to grow her business and create a better life for her and her children. She told me, confidently, “My word is my collateral.” Whole Planet Foundation has provided loans to over 16,500 individuals, like Aracely, in the developing world since its inception in 2005. Meeting with borrowers is an important part of our work as a Foundation and we are continually amazed by their resilience and hard work to create a higher standard of living for their families and for their children’s future. Hallie is the Development Associate for Whole Planet Foundation. In this role, she supports the team in communications- including writing borrower stories, partnership development and fundraising programs. She has extensive travel, study and work experience in Latin America and is fluent in Spanish and Portuguese. Hallie has a BA in Psychology from Texas A&M University and enjoys traveling, music and rock climbing.

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Amy Sisson says …

Thanks so much for posting about this. I think microlending programs are fantastic. Does Whole Foods have a direct donation option, maybe at checkout? Not that grocery shoppers want to be asked for money every time they shop, but perhaps an optional (not hard sell) "round up" program. If I knew it was in place, I'd be willing to round up my grocery bill to the nearest dollar every time I shopped, to go to Whole Foods microlending programs. Just a thought!

says …

@Amy Thanks for asking about donating to Whole Planet Foundation. All of our operating costs are covered by Whole Foods Market, so 100% of all donations received by Whole Planet Foundation are used directly for our microlending programs in the developing world. We do run an in-store giving campaign, The Prosperity Campaign, one month a year in WFM stores where customers can give donations in $2, $5 and $10 contributions at the registers. We also receive donations directly on <a href="https://www.wholeplanetfoundation.org/get-involved/donate-online" rel="nofollow">our website</a> all year round. Thank you again for your support.

Sharon says …

I am very moved by Aracely's story and how Pro Mujer really directly helps women. As all mothers in every part of the world, we want the best for our children. Is there a school for the children of her town? I would like to help in some way. I am a Spanish teacher and would like to spearhead a drive at my school to gather school supplies for the school in Estelí. Maybe there is already some program in place?

Gayle says …

I'm not surprised that 100% of operating costs are covered by Whole Foods... it's such a wonderful organization, for it's mission, products, and community support. is there an alternate way for me to support Whole Planet Foundation in addition to giving financially and spreading the word?