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Whole Foods makes the right kind of difference


The old expression, “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime,” was taken to heart at Whole Foods where a recent fundraising campaign will provide loans to help people improve their lot in life.

Whole Food held concerts and craft fairs and thousands of small events that raised $4.6 million with the goal of alleviating global poverty. To achieve such a lofty mission, the retailer isn’t donating money to food banks to provide hand outs, but rather using the dollars to fund a microlending campaign.

“Microcredit offers low-income individuals real, viable means for escaping the cycle of poverty, because it empowers them with the opportunity to take charge of their own life and financial future,” said Philip Sansone, president and executive director of the Whole Planet Foundation. “With a loan of $200, a microcredit client can start or expand a home-based business, gain financial independence and carve a path for a better life for herself and her entire family.”

In addition to attending events, shoppers made donations from pocket change to full microcredit loan amounts at store checkouts and online. For the first time, online donors were able to view the overall impact of their generosity in specific geographic regions via Whole Planet Foundation’s Power of One tool. Donors could see how many people their contributions will impact over several decades as loans are repaid and re-loaned again and again in North America, Central America and the Caribbean, South America, Africa, Asia and the Middle East.

Because Whole Foods Market covers 100% of the foundation’s operating costs, the entire $4.6 million raised will go directly to benefiting microentrepreneurs in countries where the company sources products. To date, through $62 million in grants to microfinance partners worldwide, Whole Planet Foundation has funded one million microloans to individuals in 62 countries across four continents, serving a total of five million people.

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