Welcome to Shared Interest's eleventh social accounts report, covering the 12 months to 31 September 2016.

You cannot have success without challenge and I am delighted to say that, despite the unsettled economic backdrop following the UK's decision to leave the European Union, 2016 has been a year of achievement for Shared Interest. Shortlisted for 14 awards, we were proud winners of the Social Enterprise category of the prestigious UK Private Business Awards, and also the Social Investment category at the Third Sector Awards.

Not only are the awards a great way of recognising the hard work of our staff and stakeholders, they also help us showcase the powerful and positive impact we can have on producers' lives with the support of our members and volunteers.

This year, the Society lent money directly to 163 producer groups, and we also added three new products to our lending portfolio: flowers in Kenya, coconuts in Ghana, and alpaca fibre in Peru.

The year started with Shared Interest being commended for its good practice as the first share offer to be accredited with the Community Shares Standard, and as the financial year came to a close on 30th September, we reached almost £36.5m in Share Capital, which surpassed targets by over £1m.

With the average length of time someone holds a Share Account remaining at 13 years, we are fortunate to have a loyal membership which enables us to provide finance to those communities across the globe that need it most.

By using a crowdfunding platform for the first time and through the support of donors, our charity, Shared Interest Foundation has been able to raise almost £5,000 to help improve the livelihoods of almost 300 women in Rwanda, as well as embarking upon access to finance training in Latin America.

As you will see from the figures in this report, the financial result for the Society shows a loss after making provision for likely bad debts.

Unfortunately, it has been necessary to provide for a large outstanding balance in full, as well as our normal yearly provision. Great efforts were made to find a rescue package for the co-operative in question but in the end this proved impossible to achieve.

Had it not been for this unforeseen amount, we would have posted a profit; a huge achievement in a year of change and turbulence. However, we must remember that this is the reality of lending to vulnerable businesses in the developing world and we keep a strong balance sheet precisely to deal with any such events.

We choose to lend to producers in disadvantaged parts of the world because of the impact we have on those communities.

This year, we made 630 payments to producer customers, with a total value of £37m. This set of Social Accounts illustrates the difference this finance makes to people's lives.

It is a pleasure to introduce a set of Social Accounts that detail the real impact behind our activities. We hope you enjoy reading this report, and welcome any feedback.

Please email any comments to membership@shared-interest.com


Mary Coyle MBE, Chair