Empowering Entrepreneurs: Interview With Gayle Grindley, Investing in Future Generations

Feb 2, 2018 3:05 PM ET
Campaign: Whole Planet
Gayle Grindley with microcredit clients in Guatemala, Central America

Meet Gayle Grindley, Natural Channel Sales Director for Unilever

Gayle Grindley has travelled with Whole Planet Foundation and met microcredit clients in Austin, San Diego, Phoenix, in Guatemala in Central America (pictured), in Paraguay, South America and in Togo, West Africa.  

1.  What is your inspiration to support women entrepreneurs?  

Women are the foundations of their communities, often the unsung heroes, particularly in marginalized populations.  Their jobs are never done and it’s not unusual for them to have access to the fewest resources.  But women are ingenious problem solvers and know how to provide for their families and to create solutions!

2.  What makes Seventh Generation and now Unilever motivated to invest in a future without poverty for families around the globe?  

It’s part of who we are at the core of our DNA. Unilever’s mission is “To make sustainable living commonplace”.  Sustainability has many forms – economic, environmental, emotional and alleviating poverty helps support all of those forms of sustainability.  It creates communities, enhances the health of its participants and changes the course of future generations and their expectations.

3. You have travelled to so many locations with Whole Planet Foundation – how do you have time for all of this work?  

Everything is life is about priorities, you make time for the things that are important to you.  But, I also have an amazing support system – Seventh Generation, and now Unilever, supports my work with Whole Planet Foundation and my partner at home knows how important this work is to me and helps me prepare for my travel!  I also am good at sleeping on airplanes and cars and trains and buses. 

4. What has been the most special experience you have had with a microcredit client?  

All of my experiences have been impactful and have helped to reshape my understanding of almost everything and I have a totally different perspective!  But, you never forget your first time…being in Togo and visiting with a lovely woman named Kadijah, who operates a small produce stand in a neighborhood with no markets.  It’s what we would call a food desert in the United States.   She lives in that neighborhood and understood the needs of the families and how she could provide a needed service at a reasonable price – everyone wins!  Her dream is to have a second location, to be able to provide good products to more families and to be able to send her children to school.  Very basic needs that many of us take for granted and that would not be possible for Kadijah without microcredit.  It’s not a miraculous or unusual story and that’s what makes microcredit work – it is simple and it provides results!

5. Your personal passion to support women around the globe to have opportunity for a better life manifests in how you engage so deeply with Whole Planet Foundation.  What’s your 5-year dream? 

I do have a passion for travel and desire to learn more about cultures around the world and how I can better serve them.  I want to be a more productive and serving member of my community both locally and globally; we’re all inter-related.  I know that I’ll participate with Whole Planet Foundation for the rest of my life, it’s become a part of my personal value system.  Maybe not in five years, but eventually, I’d like to be more involved in an international non-profit working with women’s issues and entrepreneurship.  

6. What’s your advice to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to embed purpose into their business strategy? 

Live your passion, share your mission and make your values a part of your conversations about your business.  It’s always the right time to talk about what drives you to succeed.  People want to support brands and companies who align with their own value systems – let your consumers know what you stand for and what you’re invested in and they will invest in you.  Lead with your vision!

7. Any final thoughts for our audience?  

There is not an organization besides Whole Planet Foundation that I can think of where so little money goes so far to positively impact a community. When you consider that the average loan size in some countries is as small as $100 – that’s mind blowing!  To think that one small loan can give one woman...a family...and in turn change the course of a community because of the success of one woman with a microloan!  Accountability and duplicability make microlending work.  Seventh Generation has now donated over $500,000 to Whole Planet Foundation with thousands of women receiving loans and being living success stories! 

Find your favorite brand donor to Whole Planet Foundation like Seventh Generation & Unilever here.