By Laura Ferreiro
While most people may not see many similarities between independent musicians and small business owners, it’s surprising just how many things they have in common. Independent musicians and entrepreneurs must both find creative ways of using their talents to establish their careers and generate income for themselves and their families, both need to promote their work to potential audiences and customers, and there’s no denying that they often encounter many obstacles along the way that they need to overcome in order to succeed.
These similarities were immediately apparent to singer-songwriters Shani Rose and Katie Ferrara, who are embarking on the Road Less Traveled Tour in partnership with Whole Planet Foundation to support their efforts to alleviate poverty by providing microloans to entrepreneurs around the world. The tour supports the Foundation’s Musicians for Microcredit program, which gives people the chance to create or expand home-based businesses and lift themselves out of poverty. “As woman entrepreneurs in the music industry, we really connected with the work Whole Planet Foundation does with women entrepreneurs around the world, helping them kick-start their dreams and fund their businesses,” Rose told Music for Good.
The tour kicks off in their hometown of Los Angeles on March 8, and will hit cities including Phoenix and Tucson, culminating in two performances at the South by Southwest Festival March 17 and 18. They will play free shows at Whole Foods Market locations in each city, bringing attention to the Musicians for Microcredit program and donating a portion of their merchandise sales to help a family access a loan.
Whole Planet Foundation was excited to help facilitate Rose and Ferrara’s Road Less Traveled tour. “Musicians, like the entrepreneurs who receive microcredit loans, are doing something they love and might need some help along the way,” said Olivia Hayden, Digital Fundraising Specialist for Whole Planet Foundation.
“Shani and Katie are thinking outside the box and perhaps opening doors for more musicians to do the same,” Hayden added. “They’re business women who want to inspire women to follow their dreams. They’re creating their own success and want to encourage other entrepreneurial women all over the world to create their own success. So we wanted to help.”
Rose said that she and Ferrara immediately liked the idea of partnering with Whole Planet Foundation after being approached by the foundation to collaborate on the Musicians for Microcredit program. “Music is a great conveyor of messages and way to let people know about things, so I thought it was a great idea for them to create this partnership,” Rose said. “I was looking for a way to volunteer and give back and do something that was bigger than me and my music, so it came at the exact right time.”
What’s more, Rose’s song “Stronger Together” seemed to embody one of the Foundation’s primary missions of working together to support one another and make each other stronger. Many of Whole Planet Foundation’s microfinance partners utilize the Grameen method of lending, where borrowers belong to solidarity groups who meet once per week to make their loan repayments, ask questions, and share business advice. Rather than trying to make it alone, these borrowers are stronger together as they are able to support each other through their weekly meetings and relationships with other entrepreneurs.