The Waitrose & Partners Foundation
The Waitrose & Partners Foundation was created in 2005 to help improve lives and create better opportunities for the people and communities who grow, pick and pack our fresh produce.
We rely on farms all over the world to bring our customers fresh, tasty, nutritious food year-round. We want to improve the lives of those living in rural communities, whose hard work helps fill our shelves. That’s why we launched the Foundation.
Investing in communities
The Foundation has so far invested more than £14 million into community projects. Every time you buy a product with the Waitrose & Partners Foundation logo, a portion of the sale is invested back into the country of origin.
Our support has helped communities build creches, health clinics, libraries, maternity services, computer labs and adult education centres, to name a few. And we are continuing to expand our work.
In 2021 the Foundation launched in Tanzania with lisianthus bouquets and Zambia and Zimbabwe with passionfruit. In 2019 the Foundation launched in Senegal and The Gambia with new produce including sweetcorn and chillies. In 2018 we launched our first projects in Central America with the inclusion of Costa Rican pineapples into our product range.
Involving local workers
Local projects are chosen by committees – with farmers and worker members elected by their communities. Alongside needs assessments, these groups play an important role in the success of the Foundation, selecting and supporting initiatives that have the most benefit locally.
Meet... the farm community member
Mercy Biwott (pictured above) chairs the 10-person worker committee at Ravine Roses in Kenya. With the support of our collaborative partner and charity group, Farm Africa, she identifies where we can best invest in the workforce and community.
With Mercy's help, one successful project we funded was a children's creche to allow parents to work during the day. “There is now a safe place for parents to leave their children when they go to work as well as a bus to collect the children. Before, it was difficult for parents, but now we can earn money safe in the knowledge that our children are well cared for,” Mercy says.
Meet... the buyer
"We buy many of our flowers from Kenya, namely sunflowers and roses, and the Foundation helps us develop a long-term relationship with our suppliers over there. Our investment in their communities makes a huge difference to them as well as us," says Nicola Wall, Partner and buyer for cut flowers.
Meet... the farm community member
Julius Ngobeni is a section leader at South Africa’s Groep 91 farm, which supplies Waitrose & Partners citrus. The child of a poor family, he didn’t finish school and at age 52, was illiterate. He relied on others to manage his finances and had no career opportunities. Last year Julian attended adult education classes on the farm, funded by the Foundation. Now he can write his name, help his children with their homework and has better control of his finances.
“Learning to read and write means I can now take better care of my family. I understand the importance of education and going to school. I think it was a very good challenge for me to learn from," Julius says.
Meet... the supplier
Sizwe Magagula is the human resources manager at Westfalia, our largest supplier of South African avocados. He also sits on the Board of the Foundation in Southern Africa.
"Being part of the Waitrose & Partners Foundation adds another dimension to what we do. We have an active partner who wants to invest in the people on our farms and their families. As a result, people want to work for us and when they’re healthy, happy and know that their children are getting a head-start, they are more productive. It makes good sense all round. Without this support, we'd struggle to make such an impact," Sizwe says.
Addressing long-term needs
We can only address the systemic issues facing rural communities across the world by taking a long-term collaborative approach. Through a soon-to-be launched innovation fund, we aim to develop innovative ways to address some of the global challenges facing the farming sector.
We focus our efforts on ways to help young people improve their skills and opportunities, for example by helping them into work, creating jobs, helping develop small businesses, provide financial guidance and more. In doing this, we hope to ensure the long term sustainability of their agricultural sector.
Working with suppliers
The Foundation is a collaboration between Waitrose & Partners and our suppliers. At a local level, we partner with charities with the knowledge and expertise of how to best meet the needs of the community. They support our efforts, for example by carrying out farm-need assessments, training farm worker committees, delivering local projects and helping us to develop best-practice toolkits and frameworks. In this way, we’re able to make a real difference to the communities we support.
Our progress in numbers:
£14m invested since 2005
1000+ projects supported
Spotlight on a supplier:
When did the Foundation arrive? 2018
Which products are supplied? Whole-head pineapples
How do we help? We work with a pineapple supplier and local charity, Fruktus Foundation to invest in educational and economic empowerment projects for workers and their families. This is a not-for-profit organisation run by second-generation family members of those who own companies dedicated to pineapple and banana production
in the country.