Posts Tagged 'Microfinance'

Be Green Packaging Joins Whole Planet Foundation Trip to Visit Microfinance Recipients in Thailand: Day 1

Whole Planet Foundation logoWith operations in 50 countries and over $224 million dollars donated since its inception in 2005, the Whole Planet Foundation is a major force for positive social change worldwide.  The WPF works with a global network of microfinance lending institutions by offering them grants, which are then disbursed to the local communities in which they operate.  These grants allow the local microfinance offices to offer what are known as microloans — typically on the order of about $100 — to members of the community.  Although a small amount by Western standards, it can be life changing for poverty stricken individuals in developing countries.  The efforts of the WPF, in conjunction with its worldwide partners, have positively influenced the lives of thousands of families and individuals, allowing them to rise to a new standard of living, which often includes access to education and other essential needs.

Every year the WPF invites some of its largest annual contributors to travel to a selected destination where they are working with microcredit lenders.  The trip is a chance for companies and individuals donating to the WPF to see the change their contributions are making firsthand. This year, the WPF invited the group to Thailand, where they will be visiting with the communities and recipients of their donations.

Be Green Packaging’s CEO Ron Blitzer joined the group for the second time following his trip to Brazil with the WPF last year.  As a founding member of the Whole Planet Foundation’s ‘Change for Change’ fund, Be Green Packaging has been involved with the organization for many years.  A long-term supporter, Blitzer was interested in seeing what kind of impact the company’s donations were having on people’s lives, this time in Southeast Asia.

Days 1-2

After arriving in Bangkok the night before, the group started the day off touring the Grand Palace where their guide educated them on the history of Thailand, it’s people and their rich culture.  They travelled through the city on some of Bangkok’s many rivers where they got a firsthand glimpse into some of the more impoverished shanty towns existing on the banks of the polluted waterways.

After a bit more sightseeing to help them adjust to the local culture, in Blitzer’s words “The real adventure began” as they boarded an all-night train to Surin to visit with the Small Enterprise Development group and microloan recipients in the field.

microfinance program

meeting with local microfinance coordinators

The group arrived at the Chamuang Village Bank house in Surin around 10am after a long, bumpy train ride.  The weather was typical of equatorial regions — hot and humid.  The local bank put together a presentation for the group covering their activities and programs in the area.

villager crafts

locals display their wares in the village of Chamuang

Chamuang is located near Tramuang in Surin province.  It is a small village consisting of roughly 650 people who make string beads, key rings and other souvenirs as their main livelihood.  The community welcomed the WPF team and the village Chief, Mr. Sonsok, spoke to the group through an interpreter.  The community leaders served a traditional lunch of rice, veggies, fruits and tea.

Blitzer and the group observed the very real effects of the microfinance efforts in the community — the people seemed happy and content and the children all had smiles on their faces as they played with the guests and among themselves.  The houses in the village were small with wood and steel siding and you could see the general prosperity the villagers enjoyed with cars and satellite dishes accompanying their homes.

cooking silkworms

locals making silk

After the visit to Chamung, the WPF group was off to another village where the locals made woven silk fabrics.  This community had been involved in microfinance programs for the past 17 years and it showed — they spun beautiful silks and gave the group a tour to see how the material was harvested from silk worms and woven into the finished goods.

The long day ended with elephant rides (yes, elephant rides) and quality time spent time with the residents of the local community.

elephant ride in thailand

getting ready for elephant rides

Stay tuned for more details of the trip as it unfolds.

Whole Planet Foundation and Be Green Packaging Visit Microfinance NGO’s in Brazil

whole planet microfinance client

whole planet foundation micro loan recipient

The Whole Planet Foundation is a non-profit organization founded by Whole Foods Market that works to alleviate poverty via microcredit lending in communities worldwide that supply their stores with products.  By collaborating with existing microfinance infrastructure in various locations around the world, the foundation has a massive reach with programs now running in over 50 countries.  As of March 2012, the Whole Planet Foundation disbursed nearly $135 Million dollars in microfinance loans, positively impacting the lives of thousands of individuals and families.  The Whole Planet Foundation is a powerful way for Whole Foods Market and its suppliers to affect meaningful change in the communities that make their businesses possible.

sao paolo brazil

impoverished neighborhood in Sao Paulo, Brazil

When Be Green Packaging CEO Ron Blitzer was invited to join the supplier alliance on the recent Whole Planet Foundation International Field Visit to Brazil, he jumped at the opportunity.  As a founding member of the Whole Planet Foundation’s ‘Change for Change’ fund, Be Green Packaging has been involved with the organization for many years. As a long-term supporter, Blitzer was interested in seeing just what kind of impact the company’s donations were having on people’s lives.

Both a founder and board member, Ron has banking experience due to his involvement with the Bank of Santa Barbara.  During the trip to Brazil, he experienced the banking process on a much smaller scale, as the amounts typically offered in microfinance loans are in the range of $150 – $250.  Although small by American standards, these sums allowed program participants to start businesses and help raise themselves and their families out of poverty.

loan being finalized at the Banco de Povo

loan being finalized at the Banco de Povo

While in Sao Paulo, Brazil, the group met with the leadership at the Banco Do Povo (a non-profit NGO that works with the Whole Planet Foundation), where donors experienced first hand the effects that the microloans had on the lives of the Brazilian entrepreneurs.

“What was amazing to me was to be able to see a family signing the documents and receiving a check to start a business. While the amount was only $150 dollars, the expression, excitement and amazement on the faces of the borrowers was exactly the same as it was at the Bank of Santa Barbara.  The amounts really do not matter when a banker lends you money it is always transformative.” stated Blitzer of the experience.

Whole Planet Foundation supplier group

Whole Planet Foundation supplier group

He went on to comment, “As a triple bottom line company, Be Green’s business model and focus on sustainability maintains that supporting people and the planet are as important to us as sales and profits.  Contributing and aligning ourselves with micro finance helps us meet our organizational and personal missions. It’s not just about biodegradable packaging, its about building a sustainable business model and making a positive impact on people and the planet as a whole.  Working with the Whole Planet Foundation is one of the ways in which we can have a direct, meaningful impact by helping to alleviate poverty worldwide.”

Be Green Packaging has a long-standing relationship with Whole Foods Market as the supplier of the compostable and recyclable bulrush food containers used in the Prepared Foods, Meat and Seafood, and Produce departments.

About Whole Planet Foundation

Founded in 2005, Whole Planet Foundation is a Whole Foods Market foundation that funds poverty alleviation worldwide where the company sources products. The nonprofit’s mission is to empower the poor living in developing-world communities with microcredit and the chance to create or expand a home-based business and lift themselves and their families out of poverty. As of December 2011, Whole Planet Foundation is funding microlending programs through microfinance institutionpartners in 50 countries in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the U.S., supporting over one million people with a chance for a better life. To date, the nonprofit has authorized more than $26.5 million and disbursed more than $16.5 million through microlending partners worldwide. Learn more and donate online at wholeplanetfoundation.org.

About Be Green Packaging

Be Green Packaging LLC, based in Santa Barbara, Calif., manufactures and distributes Cradle to Cradlecm certified, tree-free, compostable and recyclable packaging for the food and consumer packaging industries. The company’s products are made from annually renewable plant fibers that are safe for people and healthy for the planet. For more information about the company, please visit Be Green Packaging.  To order Be Green products visit the Be Green Packaging Store here Biodegradable Packaging


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About Be Green Packaging

Be Green Packaging designs, manufactures and distributes Cradle to Cradle™ certified, tree-free, compostable packaging for the consumer packaging industries that is safe for people and healthy for the planet.