After last Friday’s stunning announcement, most of us have wondered how Amazon’s will continue to disrupt and redesign the traditional retail model via the acquisition of Whole Foods. Will books and other merchandise now be sold at Whole Foods? How will Amazon have to change their fulfillment model to deliver both the Cheerios not sold at Whole Foods and the organic milk only sold at Whole Foods? Will robots replace the checkout staff? Will drones bring kale straight to my house? Good questions, every one.
What I wonder, as the purchase announcement was made on the same day as Amazon founder, Jeff Bezos, tweeted asking for ideas about “right now philanthropy”: Is this a coincidence or intentional overlap?
At the core of the Whole Foods model is purpose. Ads that read “The Highest Standards Weren’t Available So We Created Them” in the Miami Whole Foods store; an enormous collection bowl dedicated to “Alleviatiating Poverty Worldwide” at the store in Kensington in London.
Sourcing foods that are good for our bodies using methods that are good for the soul and our Whole Planet. A for profit business whose core purpose appeals to each of us that believe our everyday choices matter to our bodies, our children’s future and the fate of the Earth. With tag lines such as “Eat Like an Idealist”, “Feed Your Better Nature”, and “Values Matter” that manifest in merchandise and the activities of The Whole Planet Foundation and The Whole Kids Foundation.
So, acquiring Whole Foods is not only a market moving sprint to total retail domination, it is the acquisition of a corporate citizenship strategy that provides micro-loans to accelerate entrepreneurship in developing countries and creates gardens to improve the wellness and nutrition of children. Further, Amazon will be connected to every community organization that Whole Foods supports through donations made at the register and special shopping days. A broad international corporate citizenship footprint and a hyper local model that reaches shoppers at the point of purchase covers a lot of bases.
Let’s get back to that tweet. It’s been awhile since I’ve been active on Twitter. Mr. Bezos’ invitation led to the following recommendations for “right now philanthropy”.
1. Deliver fresh foods to the zip codes with the greatest food insecurity issues—the food deserts—in all the cities with Whole Foods Markets. Every. Day. Especially on weekends and during school breaks when the most vulnerable children do not have any access to the nutrition they need. Kids cannot learn if they are hungry. Maybe acquire Instacart for this purpose?
2. Pay for school lunches for all students that need it. No more lunch debt shaming or political wrangling.
3. Expand Whole Foods gardens to every school in the world.
4. Provide Meals on Wheels with every cash or food resource needed—to ensure all seniors who count on this service receive it.
5. Rapidly install early education centers in every zip code with waitlists for Head Start or Early Head Start slots. Focus on quality and provide access free of charge. In the short term, parents can get to work. In the long term, you will elevate the educational and professional vistas for generations.
6. Provide the social entrepreneurs funded by the Whole Planet Foundation with technology and connectivity to help them scale their efforts, if scale is practical.
The June 16th acquisition and tweet are each filled with purpose—ripe with both capitalism and activism. A connection sprung from the dreams of every activist capitalist.