Our journey

Shared Interest Foundation was set up by Shared Interest Society; providing alternative means to achieve the same mission.

It's key role is to raise funds for development projects, provide training and grants for producers, and develop partnerships with other charities.

We were registered with the charity commission on 27 February 2004.


Our first achievement was to provide support to producers affected by the Boxing Day Tsunami. This was the pre-cursor to our current Livelihood Security Fund - emergency support for Shared Interest Society customers affected by natural disaster. This fund has gone on to provide assistance for:

  • Producers affected by hurricanes which damaged banana and coffee crops in Windward Isles and Mexico
  • Replanting of fruit trees in Pakistan following a landslide
  • Flood affected crafts producers in the Philippines and a cashew nut processor in El Salvador
  • A clothing producer in Zimbabwe struggling with economic and political turmoil
  • Replacing laser cutting equipment for a business in Kenya hit by lightening

2005 - 2006

Producer training is our mainstay activity. Our first training was a £17.5k project supporting a Kenyan producer called Mango True Mirage.

This was closely followed by accountancy training to Gumutindo Coffee Co-operative in Uganda, jointly funded with Cafedirect.

We facilitated business planning training for Rwandan handcraft business, Dancing Pots.


We were able to scale up our training. A course in Zimbabwe was attended by 30 craft producers; and we also ran some group training in South Africa and Rwanda.


Our training capacity grew further, and in 2008, we provided training to 167 groups in 7 countries.

It was also in 2008 we received our first major grant - £236k awarded by Big Lottery Fund to work in Rwanda over 3 years. We not only provided training for 50 businesses, but helped establish a support network for them, which we now know as RWAFAT.


We secured further funding of £502k from Comic Relief for a three year project in Swaziland to work with 135 handcraft businesses over 3 years, and again, helped establish a business support organisation, SWIFT.


We developed the Access to Finance programme, focussing on financial management raining. Partnering with Fairtrade Africa this will train 150 businesses over 2 years across 5 countries in East and West Africa. Comic Relief is our key funding partner in this, enabling us to engage with commodity producers in addition to handcraft businesses.

We also gained funding from the Commonwealth Foundation for the first time. A two year peer leading programme will bring together our partners in Swaziland and Rwanda with representatives from the Malawi fairtrade network, via Fairtrade Africa.



Celebrating 10 successful years of the Foundation was a moment for reflection on all that had been achieved. As we focused increasingly on financial management training for fair trade businesses, we wanted to ensure that our wider business support work continued to thrive. We were pleased therefore to be able to fund a business manager post for our partner RWAFAT in Rwanda to ensure their continued development. This was especially important in the year that marked the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide.

We also received news that Comic Relief would provide £428k of funding for a second project in Swaziland to help our partner SWIFT to transition over 4 years into a financially sustainable business support organisation.

We were delighted to be "Highly Commended" by the Charity Awards in 2014 in recognition of the quality of our work in Swaziland. We were then privilidged to be shortlisted for the Charity Times Awards in 2016.

Hallmark -CA2014-highly -comm

charity times award

To the future

Working alongside Shared Interest Society and other social lenders, we're continuing to understand more about the financial training and technical assistance that is both needed and provided.

We hope you're encouraged by how far we've come - and by the success of what we've achieved together.

Thank you for your continued support.