The founder of a popular food app is facing a backlash over unpaid charity proceeds and has been accused of deleting critical comments from the company’s official social media pages.
Fairfax Media on Sunday revealed Melbourne entrepreneur Belle Gibson, founder of The Whole Pantry, failed to hand over money raised through two charity drives in 2013 and 2014. Four of the five charities promoted as beneficiaries had no knowledge of the #fundraising campaigns, which included a function and an online promotion promising to donate app sale proceeds.
Ms Gibson said the company had been unable to pass on money raised due to cashflow problems and had hired external accountants to manage its struggling finances. The Whole Pantry posted a detailed statement to its vast online following on Sunday night in which it said the company’s books were not in order and that it fully intended to make the charitable payments.
“TWP’s new business management and accounts team are working through the workload of bringing the accounts and business up to date and all charities have been openly communicated with and are aware of our intentions to uphold this financial support when the necessary keepings of the business are finalised,” it said.
But the statement sparked a slew of criticism against The Whole Pantry and Ms Gibson. Followers said the company had deleted negative posts from its Facebook page and blocked those who questioned its fundraising activities on social media. Comments casting doubt over Ms Gibson’s story of cancer survival are also believed to have been deleted. The 26-year-old, who has traded heavily off her story as a young mother treating terminal brain cancer with nutrition and a healthy lifestyle, declined to discuss her health.