Last year, we made payments totalling £48.5m to 230 organisations in 51 countries. The entire Shared Interest team helps make this possible, including our amazing investors and volunteers.
However, who is it that helps us reach businesses across the globe with our finance?
In a series of blog posts, we would like to introduce you to some representatives from our Lending Team.
France Villeneuve has been part of the Shared Interest team for almost a decade and her role involves seeking out new lending opportunities and managing customers in the Northern Hemisphere and Pacific Rim.
Shared Interest is one of the few social lenders to provide credit facilities to buyer organisations in the Northern Hemisphere. However, our portfolio in this region consists mainly of buyer organisations based in North America and Europe.
Why do we lend to buyer organisations?
In line with the Fair Trade Principles, buyers are required to provide producers with a 50% payment on placing an order. This can put financial pressure on the buyer’s cash flow. Shared Interest helps fill this gap by sending money to producers on their behalf.
Our finance to buyers also allows them to pay farmers and artisans upfront, so that they in turn can buy the things they need to sustain their business, like seeds or materials.
Some producer groups are too small or too risky for Shared Interest to finance directly, or are located in countries where we cannot provide funds - such as India, Uzbekistan, Bangladesh, and Nepal. By providing finance to buyers working with producers in these regions, we can provide indirect support.
Bearing in mind that the majority of our customers in this region are exporting their products to different countries, we asked France:
How have customers been affected by the impact of the pandemic?
France said: “Amidst huge challenges, buyers have been finding new ways to help producers protect their communities and livelihoods. Unfortunately, many handcraft organisations were already suffering before the pandemic due to declining sales, which had negatively impacted some producers in Asia, most particularly India and Bangladesh, where the majority of handcraft producers are located.
“Many producers in Asia continue to face challenges, due to Covid-19, as small retail stores have been closed and several trade shows cancelled. The entire supply chain is affected as delays in selling the goods also means that some buyers will not be in a position to negotiate new orders with producers.
“In addition, some countries have restricted the export of non-essential goods, meaning that buyers are not only unable to receive products from their suppliers, but are also struggling to send payments to them.
“It has been incredibly inspiring to see so many buyers starting their own fundraising campaigns to help artisans, or using some of their profits to support the communities they work with.”
You can hear more from France by watching this short film where she talks about the impact and challenges of providing finance in her region.