Emeryville, Calif. (May 21, 2014) – Today through May 31, food and body care product makers can apply to receive a grant from Whole Foods Market to grow their business – whether they currently supply the retailer with products or not. This is the first time Whole Foods Market has offered grants for local producers. The grant application is online at localfoodmakergrant.com.
To fund the grants, on Wed., July 2, each of the company’s 40 Northern California stores will host a “5% Day” with five percent of the day’s sales going to their local grant recipient. “5% Days” typically generate between $3,000 and $6,000 per store.
“This can be a significant financial boon for a small producer as it can fund organic certification, Non-GMO Project verification, a down payment on a delivery van, or even a batch of raw ingredients,” said Harv Singh, Whole Foods Market Northern California Regional Forager.
The company is partnering with Working Solutions, a Bay Area based non-profit microloan agency, to administer the grants.
“Working Solutions has already provided $5 million in microloans from $5,000 to $50,000 in size to 207 businesses in the Bay Area, and it’s exciting to expand our financial support into the grants world,” said Emily Gasner, Executive Director, Working Solutions. “Whole Foods Market is the right partner at the right time to help us grow our business alongside these grant recipients. Plus, it’s going to be a fun way for the community to get involved in voting for their favorite businesses!”
Community members will play an integral part in selecting each store’s grant recipient. Once applicants are gathered, the company will select 120 finalists: three for each store. From June 12 to 19, members of the public can go to their local Whole Foods Market store Facebook page and vote on one of the three finalists. Winners will be announced on June 23 so shoppers can support the supplier of their choice on July 2.
To qualify for a grant, producers must grow or make their product in North California or Reno and earn no more than $100,000 in annual revenue. They must meet Whole Foods Market’s quality standards and carry liability insurance in the event that the grant leads to Whole Foods Market carrying the product in one or more stores. Additional eligibility requirements are outlined on the website; no late applications will be accepted.
Whole Foods Market has long been committed to supporting local producers. In 2007, the company founded the Local Producer Loan Program, which provides short term, low-interest loans for capital expenditures for small food producers. The Northern California region also hosts biannual vendor support workshops to arm new and local vendors with best practices for working with the company and growing their business. Regional Foragers based across the country seek out the best new producers and work hand-in-hand with them to help bring their products to market.
For more information, visit wholefoodsmarket.com/local.