Posts Tagged 'Microloans'

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.

Save the World With $20: How Microcredit Lending Can Make a Huge Impact

It’s true, you can make a huge impact on someone’s life with only $20.   For the same price as a meal at your favorite restaurant you could fund an aspiring entrepreneur in a developing country and help them break the vicious cycle of poverty that puts a glass ceiling on what they can achieve.

In the 1980’s Muhammed Yunnus began studying societal trends in developing countries and had the incredible realization that by giving individuals small loans at fair interest rates, they could effectively lift themselves out of poverty.  Today, there are over 3,600 micro lending institutions worldwide helping over 75 million people at any given moment.

Microcredit lending works in the same way as a traditional loan, only with smaller amounts of money.  In third world countries, whose cost of living is often only a fraction of that in developed nations, it doesn’t take much capital to make a major difference.  For as little as $100 (in certain countries), an aspiring entrepreneur can open a shop or purchase supplies to start a craft or food business and ultimately lift themselves out of poverty permanently.

The infographic below created by CreditScore.net provides an excellent explanation of the microcredit concept.

Image Credit: Creditscore.net

Be Green Packaging is a long-time supporter of the Whole Planet Foundation, a international non-profit organization which has disbursed over $135 million to microcredit lending programs worldwide since its inception.  To learn more about the Whole Planet Foundation and their mission visit them here: Whole Planet Foundation.


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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.