I am so proud to be one of over 9,200 Whole Foods Market team members who donate through payroll deduction to help support the work of our Whole Planet Foundation. The Foundation has various funding sources, and our team members are giving over $20,000 each payday to fund microlending in Whole Foods Market communities around the world.
Whole Foods Market Tanasbourne store is # 1 in Team Member Giving participation at 76%That's an amazing outpouring of care and concern and it doesn't stop there. Since there is 97-99% repayment of the microloans, the money raised revolves, giving more and more people access to capital so that they can fund small businesses that lift them out of poverty and they pay the loan back, which gives even more people the opportunity to do the same.Our participation throughout Whole Foods Market is up to over 17%. By the end of January we will have given over $500,000. That is over half a million dollars that our team members have given to empower people less fortunate than ourselves. Next year, even if no one else decides to join in this awesome effort, we will add another half million dollars. We are so lucky to get to work with each other in a company full of giving, compassionate people.
Ventura, community leader who has worked with Whole Foods Market team member volunteers to build stoves in the homes of indigenous people.In 2002 I was without a job when Whole Foods Market took a chance on me. I will never forget the store leaders giving me the opportunity to show what great work I could do when given the chance. Microlending through Whole Planet Foundation is how we fund opportunity for hard working creative people around the world and give them a chance like I was given. I cannot think of a better way to share our gifts than through the power of microlending.Recently I met women who are clients of Banrural Grameen Guatemala, one of the microfinance institutions funded by Whole Planet Foundation. Guatemala, where we source coffee, is a beautiful country with huge volcanoes, majestic Lake Atitlán and a vibrant indigenous Mayan culture that lights up the countryside. Yet so much of the population survives in living conditions that are hard to imagine. Open hearth fires for cooking, dirt floors, mud brick walls, little or no furniture, no running water and scarcity of the most basic of necessities are conditions people live with every day. The microcredit clients that I met work so very hard to get even the most basic of needs met. They are delightful and creative and joyous in ways that are so inspiring. The more that I saw of their ingenuity the more I realized how little I actually do with the opportunities given me. It takes so little to have a significant positive impact on the lives of these people who are so much less fortunate.Not long ago a friend of mine gave me the book Three Cups of Tea and I was greatly impressed by the work that Greg Mortenson has done to build schools in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Similarly, in Guatemala I met Ventura who has worked tirelessly (along with Whole Foods Market team members) to build stoves in the homes of indigenous people, stoves that pipe the smoke that had been getting in the eyes and lungs of the families in Pena Blanca out of their homes, giving them cleaner air to breathe and less respiratory distress and eye irritation.
Family for whom the stove was built. I believe in the difference that each and every one of us can make and I believe that we can work together to make the world a better place. Thank you Whole Foods Market team members for making a difference locally and globally and thank you Whole Foods Market for giving us all the opportunity.
Genie came to Whole Foods Market in Austin in 2002 as a bagger and has worked a myriad of positions from cashier to Store Trainer and most recently was Associate Store Team Leader in San Antonio. Having been a photographer, a personal assistant and the general manager of a small café, she brings a variety of talents to her new job as Internal Programs Ambassador. Genie has moved every two or three years for most of her life. She loves travel and takes every opportunity to be exposed to new cultures. Some of her favorite places are Bogota, Oahu, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Paris and EARTH University in Costa Rica. She speaks French and basic Spanish. Sharing the mission of Whole Planet Foundation with our team members is a dream job for her.