FAQ

What is Shared Interest?

Shared Interest Society are registered under the Co-operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014 and 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 the vital 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 lends funds to buyer and producer organisations. We provide loans and credit services to businesses worldwide that are registered with either Fairtrade International (FLO) or members of the World Fair Trade Organisation (WFTO), The British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers (BAFTS), Small Producer Seal (SSP), or the Fairtrade Federation. These businesses range from sole trader handcraft organisations to large scale coffee co-operatives and fair trade buyers. The seasonality of different products enables us to use our Share Capital effectively. For example, when the coffee harvest in South America finishes, the Central American harvest begins, meaning that their borrowing peaks never coincide. This allows us to commit to lend more money than our capital value total. However to control the risk, we set a prudential limit on approved facilities of 125% of our Share Capital and reserves.

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 as we do not work with start-up enterprises. All of the businesses we work with need to be fair trade registered and show evidence of three years of audited accounts.

Does Shared Interest charge interest on its loans?

We 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 risk attached to the individuals 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?

Topping up your Share Account is easy. Not only 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

Debit Card

You can make an investment by debit card into your Share Account securely by using our online member portal, Our Shared Interest.  If you haven't registered for online access, all you need to do is contact us with an email address.  You can do this over the telephone after answering a series of security questions, or in writing, with your signature for security purposes.  For any further questions, please email online@shared-interest.com 

Standing Order

To set up a standing order with your bank all you need is our bank account number 70062793 and sort code 089006. Don't forget to use your ten digit account number as a reference.

Cheque

You can make further investments into your account using a cheque in two ways. You can take the Bank Giro Credit Slip at the bottom of your statement along with your cheque to your bank. Alternatively you can send cheques directly to our Newcastle office. Cheques sent directly to us must have your ten digit account number written on the back. All cheques should be made payable to Shared Interest Society Ltd

Bank Transfer

If you have access to online banking you can transfer funds directly to your Share Account. All you need is our bank account number 70062793 and sort code 089006. Don't forget to use your ten digit account number as a reference.

Making a withdrawal

You can withdraw any amount at any time, provided your account contains sufficient funds. Notification in writing, signed by all account holders must be received.

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.  However, in our entire history, investor funds have never been compromised.

Shared Interest is a Community Benefit Society, which means that we cannot be regulated by the Financial Services Authority (FSA) and we are not a member of any investment protection schemes, although we do follow best practice guidelines.

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?

You can request a copy of the Sociey's rules and regulations by contacting membership on 0191 2339102 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.