Socially Responsible Bananas

How can one banana change a life? G.R.O.W. (Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers) label bananas are some of the highest quality organic bananas you will find anywhere. Sweet, flavorful and simply the best tasting, these bananas will surely become a customer favorite. In addition to the life changing flavor, G.R.O.W. bananas are also an important resource for farming communities in Mexico and Ecuador.

 

Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers

When you purchase a box of fairly traded G.R.O.W. bananas, you are affecting the livelihood of banana farming communities and contributing resources to health care, scholarships, clean water, and much more! The program has been running for nearly 20 years, and in that time has provided over $3 million dollars in aid to farm workers and their families.

 

1) What is the G.R.O.W. program?

GROW Infographic

G.R.O.W. (Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers) is a nonprofit program founded by Organics Unlimited to support underserved agricultural communities in Mexico and Ecuador. G.R.O.W. label bananas are ethically sourced, fairly traded and 100% organic.

$0.60 from the purchase of each box goes to the G.R.O.W. fund. Organics Unlimited has raised over $3 million since its inception of the G.R.O.W banana program in 2005!

These funds are used for:

  • Youth educational programs, including scholarships, school supplies, and housing for students
  • Health clinics with dental & vision care in Mexico
  • Clean water & early childhood educational programs in Ecuador
  • Environmental initiatives in the San Diego-Tijuana border region

Learn more about the G.R.O.W. Program with this video

GROW video

 

 

2) Who does G.R.O.W. impact?

The G.R.O.W. program funds a variety of resources, including scholarships, housing, health care, and more for underserved farming communities in Mexico and Ecuador. In 2021, the G.R.O.W Program funded educational efforts with:

  • 89 scholarships, 17 of those being University scholarships. These scholarships help cover all educational expenses that may prevent a young person from completing school or attending university.
  • School supplies for junior high and high school. This includes uniforms, school supplies, backpacks, transportation, and a daily hot meal. Due to COVID, in 2021, the transportation and meal funds were reallocated to a stipend for monthly food boxes for the scholars’ families.
  • College student resources. This includes tuition, transportation, supplies, and room & board at Casa Amiga, a housing facility for university students who may live too far from campus to commute daily.

Grow scholars

In addition to educational efforts, funds from G.R.O.W. have also supported healthcare, micro businesses, access to discounted milk, and clean water.

  • Health and Medical Clinic: Provides psychological workshops, assistance in processing medical benefits for minors and seniors, medical transportation, and supplies. The program also helps people access hearing devices as well as reading glasses.
  • Dental Clinics: Provides hygiene materials and instructions on proper dental care. Scholars are provided dental care through local dentists when persistent problems appear (in 2021, 11 students needed professional dental services)
  • Milk Program: In Cerro de Ortega, Colima, Mexico, G.R.O.W. provide fortified, powdered milk through a federal program called LICONSA. Families can buy the milk at G.R.O.W. study centers every week at about 50% of what the government charges.
  • Micro Businesses: Since 2010, G.R.O.W. has worked with micro-business programs in Ecuador to help give people in the communities a hand up, teaching them the fundamentals of starting a small business and how to make it a success.
  • Clean Water: In Ecuador, many villages do not have water that is safe to drink, and do not follow appropriate practices for the maintenance of drinking or cooking water. Through a program with Children International, G.R.O.W. provides filtering facilities and storage, as well as education for residents on how to make the available water safe to drink

Meet some of the G.R.O.W. scholars below and learn their personal stories!

 

Leslie Mariana

The Women of Chilpancingo

Alexandra de Jesus Nicolas Garcia

Dulce Viridiana Marquez Sosa

Danna Citlaly

 

G.R.O.W. Scholar Highlight: Britany

More G.R.O.W.

Success Stories

3) What makes G.R.O.W. unique?

The G.R.O.W. label gives consumers confidence their bananas were grown and sourced sustainably. The G.R.O.W. program directly funds socially responsible initiatives that support the workers and communities growing bananas. The impact of every box sold is accounted for and publicly shared. Customers can easily learn about how their banana purchase enriches the lives of entire communities.

The G.R.O.W. program is very transparent–there are no audit fees or minimum prices. A $0.60 premium is taken from the sale of each box of bananas, and goes straight into the G.R.O.W. fund. This is independently administered by the International Community Foundation.

4) How did G.R.O.W. get started?

Organics Unlimited is a 4th generation family-owned company currently run by Mayra Velazquez de Leon. It was started in 2000, with a mission to provide the best quality organic tropical fruits to consumers in the US, Canada, and Mexico. Its mission also includes operating sustainably and caring for their workers.

mayra in banana trees

The true spark for the G.R.O.W. program came when Mayra noticed how many workers brought their kids with them to work, because they did not have childcare. When she started looking for daycare centers in the area, she was taken aback by how few resources there were. She began looking for organizations in the area who knew the communities and their needs and could effectively provide the resources needed to these kids.

In Mexico, less than 60% of children reach high school and less than 40% graduate high school – compared to 75% of American students who have a high school diploma. Organics Unlimited firmly believes that education is a key element in breaking the cycle of poverty, which is why so much of the focus of the G.R.O.W. program has been on education. Daniella, Mayra’s daughter and general manager of Organics Unlimited, says “it’s been awesome to see the G.R.O.W. scholars receive their degrees and come back to contribute to their home economies.”

Organics Unlimited started selling only 1 pallet of G.R.O.W. and now over 95% of what they sell is G.R.O.W! The program grew organically, and was expanded from Mexico to Ecuador where they also grow a small portion of their bananas. To date they have contributed over $3 million to the program, have funded clean water programs, malnutrition recovery programs, dental and vision clinics, micro-finance loans, and numerous scholarships.

5) Marketing & Sales Resourcesbanana ripening chart

 

 

 

 

 

Help raise awareness of the G.R.O.W. program by sharing hashtag #GROWmonth on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana. –Groucho Marx