Welcoming our Overseas Team

Shared Interest head office was busier than usual at the end of the September as we were joined by our overseas colleagues; Rachel Ngondo, John Dossou, Paul Sablich and Andrea Miguel de Priego.

Although we are in daily contact by Skype, we always enjoy having our team from the Kenya, Peru and Ghana offices here in the UK.

Since opening our first overseas office in 2005, our developing in-country presence has enabled us to lend directly to more producers than ever before. As this year started, more than 70 producer groups had accounts with us and we made 110 direct payments to producer groups, which is an increase of almost 20%.


Rachel Ngondo has been working with us since we established this first office in Kenya. Since then, we have seen many success stories of handcraft producers building a brighter future for themselves and their families thanks to our investors. We are now looking to increase our coffee lending in East Africa and Rachel was delighted to tell us more about coffee co-operative Kibinge, for whom we recently approved an export credit facility.

Paul Sablich joined Shared Interest in 2009, heading up our office in Peru - a place that has more Fairtrade producers than any other region in the world. Paul told us more about how crucial relationships are to his work: "It's not just the producers that we forge relationships with, but the buyers who are indispensable in this fair trade world. The companies have every intention of paying back their loans so they want to establish long-term relationships with us."

Our most recent office was opened earlier this year in Accra, Ghana and John Dossou enjoys working from the same building as Fairtrade Africa. This link has proved beneficial in terms of helping us reach fair trade producers who may not be able to find finance elsewhere.

 Our West African presence also enables us to further diversify the products we support through our lending facilities. Products specific to this area include fresh and dried fruit, rice cotton and cocoa. In fact, did you know that approximately 60% of the world's cocoa is grown in Ghana and the Ivory Coast? The amount of cocoa sold under fair trade terms from Ghana has quadrupled from 5,000 to 20,000 tons over the past three years.

We are delighted to report that our first piece of lending is underway following the launch of our Ghana office. The export credit facility for handcraft producer, Havilak will benefit 850 weavers, many of whom are widows and single mothers. Because of a shortage in raw material, they are looking to increase their volumes by opening a production centre in the south where straw is more plentiful. You will be able to read more about our overseas team visit in the next edition of QR available here.