Whole Planet Foundation®

Whole Planet Foundation's mission is poverty alleviation in developing-world communities where Whole Foods Market® sources products. Through microcredit, Whole Planet Foundation seek to unleash the energy and creativity of every human being they work with in order to create wealth and prosperity in emerging economies. Whole Planet Foundation partners with microfinance institutions in Latin America, Africa and Asia.


Stamping Out Poverty

Since 2008, Whole Planet Foundation has funded microcredit in Indonesia, partnering with KOMIDA to reach more than 35,000 microcredit clients. The impact will soon grow with help from The Blessing Basket Project, who is working to bring opportunity to communities in Indonesia by sourcing scarves and tote bags from local artisans who will earn Prosperity Wages® for the items they create. When these products are sold in the United States, The Blessing Basket Project will donate a percentage of the profits to support our microfinance partner in Indonesia. That generous donation means the artisans will be utilizing their craft not only to empower themselves, but also to help impoverished entrepreneurs in their country gain access to microcredit so that they, too can use their skillset to create more prosperous lives for their families.

Below, Theresa, Carrington the CEO of The Blessing Basket Project, shares more about the artisan community in Indonesia from which these scarves and tote bags are sourced.

Indonesian landscape

You are looking at the edge of Central Java, Indonesia. Clouds are shrouding the countries most active and feared volcano, Mount Merapi (Mer-op-ee). Literally translated “fire mountain” in Javanese, smoke drifts from Merapi at least 300 days a year, reminding all within view that no day shall be taken for granted.

In Merapi’s shadow lies the serene village of Gambiran. Under constant threat of evacuation, hardworking rice farmers and their families struggle here on the edge of poverty.

Rice Farmer

We can’t silence Mount Merapi, but we can empower those living in Gambiran.

Like much of Central Java, Gambiran is known for creating exquisite batik fabric.

Batik Fabric

Centuries old copper stamping techniques means each is a unique work of art. The batik patterns are deeply rooted in Indonesian heritage.

Batik Fabric Sheets

The kawung pattern is one of seven sacred patterns of the Yogyakarta Kingdom. While there are various takes on its meaning, kawung generally symbolizes hope that mankind will always remember their origin and serve as reminder not to be arrogant. One look and Whole Foods Market knew this amazing art was worthy of its customers. One scarf, one tote bag at a time, this kawong stamp has been dipped in wax and pressed onto the fabric nearly a half million times.

Each scarf and tote bag was skillfully hand dyed by Ms. Ery and Mr. Syifa using colors inspired by nature.

Ms. Ery and Mr. Syifa Mr. Syifa

All of the more than half a million tie dye circles are painstakingly tied by hand. The artisans earn Prosperity Wages® for each and every tie.

Those funds helped Bariyah buy stock for her roadside store, setting her business up for sustainability.

Bariyah at her roadside store

Batik waxing requires exacting skill and patience with a tool called a canting (chun-ting). The artisans will not batik wax if they are stressed due to the intricate nature of the work.

Artisans working

The Blessing Basket Project asked the artisans to sign their work. It was an emotional moment as some learned to write their name for the very first time.

Artisan signing work

The order for these items was ten times larger than any order these artisans had ever received. The empowerment that follows will help shape a generation’s future.

Ekowati and her children

Through The Blessing Basket Project’s Prosperity Wages model and her own determination Ekowati is a force for generational change. Her son now has a computer and the 2000 plant expansion of her chili farm secures her daughter’s education.

Ekowati on chili farm

Each artisan who helped create the scarves and tote bags has a story. We give their stories voice through Artisan&You®, powerful technology we developed enabling you to meet and exchange letters with your artisan. On every scarf and tote bag you will find the face and name of the very artisan who made it.

Bags and scarfs with tags

On the back of the artisan card you will find details of the artisan’s life along with an identification number. Because we believe human connection creates peace, we invite you to visit our website at blessingbasket.org and use that identification number to start a personal letter exchange with your artisan.

Through your support of this initiative, the villagers of Gambiran can look at the smoke of Mount Merapi and know that while they cannot foresee what the mighty Merapi may have in store, at least for today they are financially empowered. As these scarves and tote bags become available and people start making purchases for prosperity and connecting with their artisans, share how you wear these products with #WherePeaceBegins.

Artisans with 'Thank you from Indonesia' sign

Learn more about how these unique products were sourced in a previous blog contributed by Theresa Carrington.

Empowered by Peanut Butter Cups

Justin at Whole Foods Market, 2005-2015

Hello there! Justin here. Yep, the Justin with his name on those organic peanut butter cups you are devouring. What you may not realize is that these peanut butter cups help empower entrepreneurs around the globe through Whole Planet Foundation.

Since its inception, Justin’s has donated more than $10,000 to fund forty-seven microloans through the foundation’s Microloan a Month Fund. Whole Planet Foundation has been able to help more than 5 million people in communities around the globe change their own lives, and we are honored to be a part of this initiative.

Since each loan supports around 5 family members, I love to think about the 249 people who have a chance to lead a better life for themselves and their families- leading the path towards poverty reduction. It is my hope that they will be an inspiration to others in their community, and the cycle of entrepreneurs empowering entrepreneurs will continue.

The journey of Justin’s was not always as smooth as my peanut butter. Here’s the back-story…in a nutshell!

It all started out of a little necessity and a lot of passion. When I just could not find the variety in nut butters that I craved, I began grinding up different flavors in my home kitchen with a simple food processor. Fast-forward just over ten years after debuting at the local Boulder, CO Farmers’ Market in 2004, Justin’s has become a household staple with nationwide distribution. It’s amazing and completely humbling to see where we’ve come, and I cannot express my gratitude for the partners that made everything possible.

Going from the farmers’ market to grocery stores all over the U.S. was no easy task, and couldn’t have happened without the support of Whole Foods Market. In 2007, we were honored to receive one of the first Whole Foods Market Local Producer Loans in the Rocky Mountain Region. With this capital, we were able to expand production and continue to innovate the first-ever, single-serve nut butter squeeze packs.

As nutty as it seemed, Whole Foods Market saw potential in our little start-up early on. They recognized the challenges we were facing and identified ways to help Justin’s grow efficiently. Many are unaware of the extraordinary love and support that Whole Foods Market gives aspiring businesses, both locally through the Local Producer Loan program, and by supporting small, home-based businesses through Whole Planet Foundation’s microfinance partners. The impact they create on a daily basis is profound, and we knew we wanted to join forces. So, in the spirit of entrepreneurship and paying it forward, we became the founding member of the Microloan a Month Fund to empower others in the developing world. Today, several other brands have joined us in this movement for good to provide a microloan each month to a passionate entrepreneur who just needs a little support growing a business that will benefit their community, provide an income, alleviate poverty and transform lives.

In addition to helping marginalized microentrepreneurs around the globe, mentoring entrepreneurs right here at home has become my passion. I meet with about three natural products businesses each week and advise them on a wide range of topics, from raising capital and expanding distribution, to staying true to values with ingredient sourcing or the corporate mission. With our company growth, partially made possible by Whole Foods Market, it is important for me to share the lessons I have learned with the next generation of change-making food brands.

Whole Planet Foundation funds 1 millionth microloan for poverty alleviation

AUSTIN, Texas (May 27, 2015) – Whole Planet Foundation has now funded 1 million microloans worldwide, empowering impoverished individuals in 65 countries to start or expand a home-based business. Launched in 2005 by Whole Foods Market, Whole Planet Foundation alleviates poverty in communities where the grocer sources products. Less than a decade later, the foundation has granted more than $64 million to microfinance partners across four continents, serving a total of more than 5 million people.

“With no collateral, credit history or a contract required, microloans offer many people something they’ve never had before – a chance to take their future into their own hands and gain financial independence,” said Philip Sansone, president and executive director for Whole Planet Foundation. “That impact extends far beyond the individuals receiving loans. It improves the quality of life for their family and most important, it can break the cycle of poverty for future generations.

Microloans have helped low-income entrepreneurs, mostly women, start or expand a variety of businesses, including artisan goods, prepared foods and food carts, small shareholder agriculture, livestock, at-home bakeries and flower stands. For more information about Whole Planet Foundation, or to make a donation, visit www.wholeplanetfoundation.org.

Get Involved

If you have questions or would like to get involved, please visit Whole Planet Foundation or send an email to general_info@wholeplanetfoundation.org.