AUSTIN, Texas (November 4, 2005) Whole Foods Market, the world's leading natural and organic foods supermarket, announced today that it will donate more than $570,000 to the newly-created Whole Planet Foundation, which will help eradicate poverty in developing countries where Whole Foods Market trades. The Company held a global Five Percent Day on October 25, and five percent of all shopper purchases at the more than 175 locations in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom were allocated to create the Foundation.
The Whole Planet Foundation is based in Austin, Texas, and operates as an independent, non-profit organization with its own board of directors. The primary focus of the Whole Planet Foundation is to improve the economic well-being of the poor in developing countries by assisting entrepreneurship and self-employment through income-generating micro-enterprises via access to capital through micro-loans. The initial collateral-free micro-loans will be offered to poor women in Costa Rica, where the company purchases bananas and pineapples, and Guatemala, where the company buys coffee. These Central American countries are the first of many communities that will benefit from the Whole Planet Foundation.
“Whole Planet Foundation micro-loans will empower people to take responsibility for their own lives, lifting themselves out of poverty by becoming successful entrepreneurs with small businesses of their own,” said Philip Sansone, executive director of the Whole Planet Foundation. “Many thanks to the shoppers of Whole Foods Market for helping the Foundation make a real difference in the fight against poverty.”
Whole Planet Foundation micro-loans are based on the principle that the poor have skills that remain under-utilized for lack of available credit. Instead of handing out money as charity, the micro-loan system teaches the value of money by enabling borrowers to make money through their own entrepreneurial efforts. The money that is repaid can then be loaned out again to others, creating a self-sustaining cycle that will eventually lift the community out of poverty.
“The Whole Planet Foundation is aligned perfectly with the mission Whole Foods Market set forth 25 years ago in terms of community involvement and responsibility,” said Margaret Wittenberg, vice-president of communications and quality standards and Foundation board member. “As we have grown and are doing more business around the world, it has become increasingly important for us to extend our vision of 'community' from our backyards to the global communities where we are trading.”
More information about the Whole Planet Foundation can be found at http://www.wholeplanetfoundation.org/.