An estimated two billion of the world's poorest people live in households in developing countries, and depend on agriculture in some form for their livelihoods. Access to finance remains a significant challenge for businesses within these countries, but we know with our support, these enterprises can generate sustainable economic growth.
Our key focus is to provide finance directly to smaller, vulnerable organisations, who often have no other affordable source of funds. We do this by offering finance in two ways: directly to producer groups that follow Fair Trade Principles and to fair trade retail businesses, wholesalers and FLO Traders. This year, our finance supported 185 customers, consisting of 165 producer groups and 20 buyers.
Coffee remains our largest focus, mainly due to the scale of Fairtrade coffee production, with more than half of all Fairtrade certified producers growing this commodity. You can learn more about the coffee producers we support and discover ways you can purchase their coffee products directly by visiting our coffee portfolio page here.
The second highest commodity in our portfolio is cocoa, whilst handcraft and textile products continue to have an important place in our portfolio as the majority of other social lenders do not offer financing to this sector. You can learn more about the cocoa producers we support and discover ways you can purchase their cocoa products directly by visiting our cocoa portfolio page here.
The types of products our lending activities support has continued to diversify in alignment with the objectives set in our strategic review, and this has helped us to reach more producers who require finance. You can read a copy of our strategic review and find out more about our efforts to diversify our commodity portfolio here.
The commodities our producers work with include: coffee, cocoa, handcrafts, fruit, nuts, tea, quinoa, grains, honey, chocolate, garments, herbs, spices, vegetables, processed foods, sugar and more. A breakdown of the products we have supported in 2022 can be seen in the image here.
Handcraft and textile products continue to have an important place in our portfolio as the majority of other social lenders do not offer financing to this sector. Our lending to these producers did increase from 8% in 2021 to 12.5% in 2022 due to higher purchases from buyers as retail shops reopened after Covid-19 and demand for handcraft items increased.
Established at the turn of the millennium, TradeAID Integrated is a not-for-profit organisation working with 65 basket weaver groups in the Bolgatanga area of the Upper East Region of Ghana. TradeAID became a Shared Interest customer in 2014, when we provided finance for the purchase of a truck. In 2017, further Shared Interest finance was used to purchase new production tools and equipment, which made a huge difference to productivity when basket weavers were facing challenges in meeting orders.
Today, TraidAid Integrated support 1,625 producer artisans, and 90% of these are women. The organisation has helped weavers form co-operatives, which has led to developing partnerships with international companies such as SERVV International (also a Shared Interest customer) who order up to 5,000 baskets each year.
To find out more about TraidAid integrated, click here.
Small but mighty, nuts are considered the hidden heroes of a healthy diet, as they are full of nutritious fibre, fats, protein, vitamins and minerals. Coinciding with a trend which is driving healthier snacking options and plant-based sources of protein, it is unsurprising, then, that the subsequent demand for edible nuts is estimated to grow, with the value of the global market projected to rise to $101.5bn by 2026.
Despite the lucrative value of their crops, nut farmers often struggle to make a decent living. Many face difficult working conditions and low pay, with the average cashew farmer, for example, earning just a little over £2 a day. However, supporting Fairtrade nut producers offers an opportunity to change this. Fairtrade nuts such as almonds, brazils, cashews, peanuts, macademia nuts, walnuts and shea nuts are grown in countries such as Vietnam, Chile, Brazil, India, Tanzania and Sri Lanka, and they’re the ideal solution for people and planet.
That is why nuts occupy the fourth largest share of our commodity portfolio at 4.7%, and it is also why we will continue to go nuts for nuts in our provision of finance facilities and support.
Founded in 1989, Candela’s vision is to strengthen the value chains of Amazonian and Andean production by empowering rural producers to make sustainable use of their native ecosystems. This area is known for having the greatest diversity of plant and animal species on earth. For over 20 years, Candela Peru has used Shared Interest finance to grow and sustain their business and its previous relationship with the Peruvian Amazon.
The co-operative's high-quality products are sourced from local and indigenous producers who wildcraft, cultivate, and sustainably harvest the best that the Andes and Amazon have to offer. Candela are dedicated to protecting their livelihoods, as well as upholding biodiversity, regenerative practices, and fair trade principles throughout these vital ecosystems.
Products from Candela Peru are diverse and can be found in a variety of places, and used for a variety of reasons, as demonstrated on their products page here. For example, popular British cosmetics store LUSH boast a fruitful relationship with Candela as a source for many of their products; more information on this can be found here.
In 2021, the annual average production of honey across the globe was 1.77 million metric tons. In the UK, consumers accounted for 43,000 tons of honey, and 95% of this honey is imported from outside the country. The global honey market size was valued at 8.68 billion dollars in 2021 and is expected to grow to 12.9 billion by 2030.
The honey produced in the regions we operate are typically harvested using traditional methods, in areas with abundant flowering plants so that the bees may forage and produce honey at their own pace. Once the honey is ready it is extracted using simple tools and techniques with minimal disruption to the bees and their habitat. Meanwhile, organic certifications protect bees and pollinators from harmful beekeeping practices, and fair trade standards means that beekeepers get fair prices for their honey.
Our honey producing customers have unique and ethical relationships with bees and their environment. From the sacred rituals of the Maya passed down through generations, embodied through members of Educe, who perform rituals for the bees to thank them for their generosity, to another Mexican co-op, Capim, who treats bees with the same dignity as human beings and truly believe that beekeeping is at the core of social improvement. As a result, it is essential that we continue to support honey producers to improve their livelihoods whilst conserving a balance in the delicate natural environment.
Educe are a honey co-operative, working with almost 1,000 beekeepers in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. This area is known for its production of high-quality honey, particularly from the Melipona bee, which is native to the region. These bees are stingless and are known for their unique honey, which is prized for its medicinal properties and distinct flavour.
Educe are certified organic by Certimex for the European Union, Naturland for Germany, Biosuisse for Switzerland, National Organic Program (NOP) for the United States and they also have Fairtrade certification. Interested in supporting EDUCE by directly purchasing their product? You can find EDUCE's range of organic products catalogued on their website, alongside their contact details, here.
Shared Interest also supports producers in other commodity markets such as fruit, seeds, sugar, herbs and even shpagnum moss. It is vital that we continue to diversify our portfolio of products, not only to reduce risk, but also to support the many millions of smallholders who may lack support or access to the finance they need to fulfil their potential and enable their members to thrive. Some of these alternative commodities are illustrated below.
Inka moss is a social enterprise and certified B-Corp, dedicated to the production and export of sphagnum moss. It was formed in 2010 by Founder Marco Piñatelli and currently operates with 20 employees (50% of which are women) and 562 harvesters.
Sphagnum moss is a valuable commodity, as it acts as a natural anti-bactericide, humidity collector and absorbs heavy metals; characteristics that make it ideal for various crops which require high amounts of moisture; especially orchids, which is a growing industry here in the UK, as well as the USA, France, Taiwan, Japan, China, Thailand, Hawaii, and Singapore.
To learn more about Inka Moss, click here.
Domesticated over 3,000 years ago, the sesame seed is one of the oldest oilseed crops, with one of the highest oil contents of any seed. With a rich, nutty flavour, it is a common healthy ingredient in cuisines across the world. This nutritious grain grows well in Nicaragua; in fact, Nicaragua’s sesame is one of the best in the world. The seeds are tolerant to drought-like conditions, which are prevalent in the region, making it an ideal location for sesame producers.
Established in 1994, Coproexnic is the largest exporter of organic processed sesame seeds in Nicaragua. They are a strong co-operative serving 2,000 farmers in 12 different communities; 56% of these farmers are women. Coproexnic are also dedicated to improving the skills of their producers, offering them training in areas such as productivity, best practices, fertilisers, plague control, product safety and occupational health. Since 2017, Shared Interest has supported Coproexnic with finance to facilitate the pre-financing of various orders.
Coproexnic cultivates close relationships of trust with clients. Their sesame is certified organic by Biolatina and Mayacert, to EU and NOP Standards. Two of these clients are ERCADERO and PPFAM, and more information on their Coproexnic products can be found here and here.
To view a full list of our customers and the commodities and themes they represent, please click here. To view a full list of the producers we support who represent new products and areas within our portfolio, then please click here.