Winner of most ethical finance institution for commitment to fair trade
At a special ceremony in Milan we were delighted to receive the award for the most ethical finance institution working in the fair trade sector by the Price Project. Regional Manager Andrew Ridley accepted the award on our behalf.
Andrew said: "It is an honour to receive this award, especially as we have been recognised alongside Triodos Bank and FIARE – both also leaders in ethical finance.
"When we heard that we had won this award, the part that pleased us most is that it is the result of a worldwide survey of fair trade organisations. It is always an honour to win any award, but when the judges are actually the people you serve, it is an even greater privilege.
"At Shared Interest, we do pride ourselves on having long term relationships with our customers. Many of the producers we lend to have worked with us for several years.
"We have so many fantastic examples of how we have helped both farming and handcraft organisations grow – often through adversity – it is hard to choose which one to tell you about today. Considering we currently make almost 3,000 payments a year to 400 organisations in 65 countries, totalling £48m, we are proud to say that we build close relationships with every single one.
"Take Chilean honey and blueberry producer, Apicoop. Their General Manager, Chino found out about us through one of his buyers, Traidcraft, based in the same region as us in the UK. Apicoop subsequently became a customer of ours in 2002. Since then, we have lent them money for a variety of reasons, including improving their honey processing facilities and more recently so they could diversify into blueberry production."
Chino visited us for our AGM in March, and told investors there on the day:
“I remember having a meeting here in Gateshead about which other Fairtrade products we could grow. We decided on blueberries, which work well with honey production as the bees pollenate the blueberry plants. Without Shared Interest investors, we would not have been able to diversify in this way.”
"Thanks to fair trade and down to their own hard work and endurance, Apicoop started with a few hives and now includes nine producer groups representing 600 individuals. They have continued to grow, counting Traidcraft and Oxfam as sustainable customers and can claim to be the world’s main supplier of Fairtrade honey.
"And that is what is at Shared Interest’s core – a coming together of people who want to help others people improve their quality of life. We say to people when they are considering becoming an investor: ‘Your investment may not make you rich but it will enrich the lives of others’. And I cannot think of a better message to leave with you today because Shared Interest has been enriching lives for 25 years. The challenge now is ensuring Shared Interest remains relevant for the next generation, and we will each play a part in this because as Chino says: “It’s when we each play a small part that we make the biggest difference.”