27 September 2021

What is Good Money Week

Designed to raise awareness of sustainable, responsible and ethical finance – Good Money Week is an annual campaign run by the UK Social Investment Forum (UKSIF). This year, we are asked to consider how we can support a green and fair recovery following the impact of Covid-19.

What can we do

This may seem like an overwhelming challenge, with people wondering what changes they can make in their own lives and businesses.  However, what we do know is that for any recovery to be durable and resilient, the crisis needs a global response.

As Shared Interest supports over 200 fair trade businesses in 51 countries, we have seen firsthand the impact of the pandemic across a wide range of sectors, particularly agriculture and handcrafted goods. In rural parts of Africa and Latin America, communities have been hit even harder as there is no support infrastructure in place. Fortunately, those within the fair trade sector have been able to support their communities using what is referred to as their Fairtrade Premium.

How can fair trade help

Primarily, Fairtrade is a system of certification that aims to ensure a set of standards are met in the production and supply of a product or ingredient. For farmers and workers, Fairtrade means workers’ rights, safer working conditions and fairer pay, including a Fairtrade Minimum Price and Fairtrade Premium. It is the highest fixed Premium of any independent certification scheme, which goes directly to the producers' co-operatives on top of market price. Furthermore, in direct response to Covid-19, Fairtrade International announced increased flexibility to its Standards. This means that many of our customers are able to spend their Fairtrade Premium funds to safeguard the health and livelihoods of farmers, workers and their communities.

We surveyed our 11,500 UK investors and when asked about their motivations for investing in Shared Interest, 70% of respondents stated ‘as a way to support fair trade’. Thanks to our supporters, we have continued to provide finance to producers and buyers throughout the pandemic. We believe that access to finance is one of the most powerful tools businesses can have right now, so that they can keep supply chains moving and make sound decisions for the future.

How can access to finance make a difference

We recently spoke to Elmira Bertagnoli Co-Founder of one of our buyer customers based in Austria. Elmira grew up in Uzbekistan and wanted to work with small-scale farmers to bring their high quality produce to Europe.

Lemberona works with over 10,000 farmers to supply a wide range of organic, Fairtrade and gluten free products, including nuts dried fruits, and vegetables.  A Shared Interest customer since 2014, they have since expanded their product range and become members of the World Fair Trade Organization (WFTO).

Enabling businesses to plan ahead

Elmira pointed out just how vital access to finance is in enabling businesses to plan ahead. She said: “The finance we receive from Shared Interest allows the farmers to work in the best way and not have to worry what to eat tomorrow – which can cause people to have to make economically bad but lifesaving decisions.

“Through support from Shared Interest the small producers can maximise production, which
results in more Fairtrade Premiums, which in turn impacts the lives of thousands of people in rural Uzbekistan.”

As we approach this year’s Good Money Week, it is with the belief that trade justice should be a reality for all communities.  Smallholder farmers produce around a third of the world's food, according to new research by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). By making a few small changes to how we spend our money in the UK, we can help ensure that the people who grow a large proportion of our food, receive the price they have earned in return.

By Shared Interest Managing Director Patricia Alexander

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