Creating Opportunity Through Microcredit

Guest Blog Post By Whole Planet Foundation Digital Media Specialist, Katelyn Gorski

Giving people the hand up they need to change their own lives is a goal Greyston Bakery and Whole Planet Foundation share. Greyston provides employment opportunities that provide a gateway out of poverty. Whole Planet Foundation is alleviating poverty by partnering with microfinance institutions to provide microloans to entrepreneurs in countries where Whole Foods Market sources product. With the recent additions of Togo and Zambia to our portfolio, Whole Planet Foundation is now funding microcredit in 63 countries.

Microlending creates hope, access, opportunity and empowerment. People can use these small loans to change their own lives and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. The average first loan disbursed through Whole Planet Foundation’s microfinance partners is now $191. The microcredit client has agency in her own life, making her own decisions and starting the business that she wants to run. With a microloan, an entrepreneur can start and grow the business she is interested in building, whether that be farming, weaving or owning a restaurant.

It is the stories of these microcredit clients and what they have been able to accomplish with their loans that demonstrate the real power of microlending. Ruksana is a microcredit client of Whole Planet Foundation’s microfinance partner CASHPOR in India. Ruksana lives in Rasulpur village, located in the Uttar Pradesh district, with her husband and children. Microcredit has granted her the access to begin a small business creating thin pure silver leaflets used to cover sweets. Purchasing small squares of silver in bulk, Ruksana places each piece between sheets of newspaper wrapped in a leather pouch, and then hammers until the squares are flattened into thin and delicate final products. For thousands of years silver has culturally been a part of daily life in India. Often used as a garnish over sweets, edible silver foil is seen glowing in the glass cases of most traditional sweet shops. In selecting this business, Ruksana expressed a desire “to preserve an important culture surrounding silver and to begin making an income” from a seeming luxury item that is enjoyed by all. Ruksana hopes to increase her profits by selling to more popular and touristy sweet shops in Varanasi in the future.

Microloan recipients like Ruksana often invest in their families, so entrepreneurship can help an individual lift herself and her family out of poverty. With the profits of their businesses, microcredit clients of Whole Planet Foundation’s partners are able to send children to school and provide them with a more nutritious diet. Knowing that microloans can have a far-reaching impact on the people in a microcredit client’s life make them even more important as a way to alleviate poverty. Across the Whole Planet Foundation portfolio, the average family size is five, so each loan helps an average of five people.

Entrepreneurship and employment address poverty by empowering individuals. Our team is proud of our partnership with Greyston Bakery, and we are grateful that these “bakers on a mission” have given more than $32,000 to help alleviate poverty. And because Whole Foods Market generously covers the Whole Planet Foundation team’s administrative costs, donations go entirely toward microlending projects around the world. We hope you will join the movement to global alleviate poverty by donating to the 2015 Prosperity Campaign.