Business support

Through Shared Interest Foundation, we build the resilience of businesses that are aiming to have both a financial and social impact in their community. Our projects include support for fair trade networks and the businesses they represent. We are also increasingly focused on improving access to finance for those businesses by providing financial training and mentoring programmes.

This year Shared Interest Foundation delivered two direct training and mentoring programmes. With the assistance of in-country partners, producer businesses were helped to improve their financial systems and increase their awareness of affordable finance.

Following approval from members, we used a donation of £50,000 from Shared Interest Society to part-fund a partner project with CLAC (Latin American and Caribbean Network of Small Fair Trade Producers) to roll out our Access to Finance project in Latin America. We worked with a total of 25 co-operatives (10 in Colombia and 15 in Peru). Participants included cocoa, fruit, and vegetable farmers. Each explored the reasons preventing them from reaching their organisational goals, and ultimately how they could access finance to grow their business.

In 2015 Shared Interest Foundation worked with eight Malawian tea and sugar co-operatives from the Malawi Fair Trade Network (MFTN) to improve their financial capacity. This year we evaluated the impact of the project to see if our aims had been met.

With the support of Comic Relief we began working in Swaziland in 2010, providing trainin for the handcraft sector. We helped establish a business support network known as SWIFT (Swaziland Fair Trade), which has a board of experienced business leaders from the local community.

This project came to a close in 2013. However last year we were granted new funding from Comic Relief to help SWIFT further develop, and improve livelihoods of the farmers and crafts people involved.

You can read more about Business Support in Social Accounts.