FAQ

What is Shared Interest?

Shared Interest Society is registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 and is a member of Co-operatives UK. Our members share our vision of a world where justice is at the heart of trade finance. We form an important link between UK social investors and fair trade organisations overseas needing finance to improve their livelihoods.

What does Shared Interest do?

Our UK based account holders invest anything between £100 and £100,000. These funds are pooled and used to provide credit services and low interest loans to fair trade farmers and artisans in the developing world.

How do Shared Interest's services help people in the developing world?

Shared Interest Society provides loans and credit services to over 400 businesses in 58 countries. 

For over 25 years we have been providing bespoke financial services as a vital means of support to some of the most disadvantaged communities across the globe. We work with businesses ranging from sole trader handcraft organisations to large scale coffee co-operatives and fair trade buyers.

 We offer a variety of lending options that enable our customers to pre-finance orders, purchase essential machinery and infrastructure, make advance payments to farmers and artisans, finance the collection of harvests, and order new stock for fair trade shops. 

How is this different from other financial institutions?

Our mission is to provide financial services and business support to make livelihoods and living standards better for people as they trade their way out of poverty. We work collaboratively and innovatively with those who share our commitment to fair and just trade. With a community of investors and the support of donors and volunteers, we seek to contribute to a world where justice is at the heart of fair trade finance.

Is Shared Interest a microfinance organisation?

We are not a microfinance organisation and we do not lend to start-up enterprises or individuals. All of the businesses we work with need to be fair trade registered and show evidence of three years of trading, normally producing audited accounts.

Does Shared Interest charge interest on its loans?

We normally lend on an unsecured basis knowing that many of our customers either do not have any security to pledge, or have already used their assets to secure conventional borrowing. We do charge interest to our customers.  This interest rate is based on the cost to Shared Interest of producing the funds, including the risk attached to the specific organisation and is competitive in comparison to loans available in country.

How many investors does Shared Interest have?

We have just over 9,000 Share Accounts in operation at present.

What are the Share Account terms and conditions?

You can read our terms and conditions here.

How can I make an investment into my Share Account?

Investing further in Shared Interest can be done in a number of ways, you can you make an investment securely online with your debit card, you can alternatively use the form in your Investor Pack to set up a standing order, or use the Bank Giro Credit slips also provided.

Don't forget to let us know if you need more slips, contact membership on: 0191 233 9102 or email membership@shared-interest.com

Click here for further information on managing your Share Account. 

How much does Shared Interest lend?

Broadly speaking, our lending falls into two categories: funds lent directly to fair trade producer groups in developing countries, and funds lent to fair trade wholesale or retail businesses in developed countries (buyers). This year we made an overall total of £51.4m in payments - an increase of £3.4m on last year. As loans are repaid, we are able to lend the money out again. Last year we lent our Share Capital one and a half times. Lending directly to producers was the highest in the history of Shared Interest.

Would my investment be at risk?

The money you put into a Share Account is an investment and you can withdraw your funds. As with all investment products there is a risk attached.

If we experienced substantial bad debts in one year, wiping out our reserves, we would have to suspend withdrawals or make a charge against Share Accounts. The interest rate payable can also vary without notice. You cannot lose more than you have invested, including any interest which has been added to your account. We have never had to make a charge against the value of Share Accounts during the entire operation of the Society from its commencement in 1990 to date.

Shared Interest is a Community Benefit Society. We are not regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and we are not a member of any investment protection schemes.

Do you offer a return on investment?

Our Board of Directors sets the rate of interest payable. Our interest rate is currently 0.5%.

When was Shared Interest formed?

You can read about our history here.

Where is Shared Interest based?

Shared Interest is an international organisation, our head office is in Newcastle upon Tyne and we have offices in Kenya, Peru, Costa Rica and Ghana.

What is Our Shared Interest?

'Our Shared Interest' is an online portal for members, where you can log in securely to view statements, make investments and withdrawals, and access messages.

You can read the Terms of Use here and also access a Help Sheet here.

How do I register to manage my Share Account online?

To register for online access with Our Shared Interest, please contact us on 0191 233 9132 with an email address you would like to use.  We will ask you questions to verify your identity for security reasons.  

Alternatively, you can write to us with your Shared Interest account number, email address, and signature for identity purposes.

What is the minimum and maximum amount I can invest?

Under current laws an individual Shared Interest account can have a maximum investment of £100,000. You can however have more than one account per household. To remain open, your account always needs to contain at least £100.

Can I open a Share Account on behalf of someone else?

Yes, you can open a Share Account on behalf of a minor.

You can also open an account as a gift for friends or family. Download a gift pack here.

Where can I find the Society's rules and regulations?

The Society's rules and regulations can be found here. To request a hard copy contact membership on 0191 233 9102 or email membership@shared-interest.com 

Where can I find the Society's accounts? `

The Society's annual financial accounts can be found here. To request a hard copy of the Director's Report and Accounts contact membership on 0191 2339102 or email membership@shared-interest.com 

Can I leave a legacy to Shared Interest?

You can, however, how you do this depends on the balance of your account. To find out more please contact membership on 0191 2339102 or email membership@shared-interest.com

What is Shared Interest Foundation?

Founded in 2004, Shared Interest Foundation is a registered charity that provides practical support to businesses in the developing world. This involves training that allows individuals to create sustainable employment in the community.