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QUARTERLY RETURN 81 Autumn 2011

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the future of shared interest

fair price for Inca super food

Award for disabled workers

Findings from our strategic review

Market access for Bolivian farmers

Long term success in Mauritius

06/10/2011 16:12:14


Shared Interest

Welcome

Gift Pack As Christmas approaches faster than ever you may be thinking about ethical and sustainable gifts for your friends and family. The Shared Interest gift pack is the new way to open a share account. Open an account on behalf of a loved one for a minimum of £100 and give them the opportunity to help fair trade farmers and handicraft producers in the developing world.

We have lots of exciting news to share with you this quarter. We are delighted to announce that we are opening a new office in Ghana, West Africa. You can read more about the office and our plans on page five and as the project develops we will of course keep you informed.

The account holder can invest further funds up to the account maximum of £20,000. Withdrawals can be made whenever they want (as long as they maintain a minimum balance of £100) and they will receive regular statements detailing their transactions as well as regular updates on the producer groups that their funds are helping.

We have been working hard on our strategic review process and an update can be found on page four. As the festive period approaches we are offering the Shared Interest gift pack as an ethical gift option which allows you to open an account on behalf of your friends and family. We think that this is a great way to introduce new members to Shared Interest and I hope you agree! The last few months have seen us open many new facilities. The range of products we support has continued to diversify and we are now making payments to vanilla and quinoa producers. More information on all our new lending can be found within the magazine. Many of you may be aware of the recent landslide in Uganda which resulted in significant loss of life. News reports suggest as many as 50 people may have been killed, with hundreds more made homeless. This is a devastating blow to the fair trade community and we are dedicated to helping in any way that we can. Finally, it was recently announced that Fair Trade USA is to move away from Fairtrade International (FLO) at the end of this year. At this stage no firm plans have been made but we hope and endeavour to ensure that this move will not affect any of the producer groups that we work with. Please keep an eye on our blog for updated information as and when we receive it.

The gift pack tells the story of Shared Interest and comes with a card from Rwandan based, Cards from Africa. The cards are made using recycled paper from local office waste. All cards are handcrafted by young people who have lost their parents to conflict or disease. The sale of the cards empowers these young people to provide education, food and shelter for their brothers and sisters. To find out more about opening an account on behalf of others please phone 0191 233 9102 or email membership@shared-interest.com.

Patricia Alexander, Managing Director Front cover photo: Silk making in Thailand for scarves to be supplied to fair trade buyer Jolica in Canada (see page 9)

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Fair Trade on

the Fringe

By Supporter Relations Officer, Ruth Taylor In August 2011 Shared Interest took part in the Fair Trade on the Fringe event that forms part of the Edinburgh Festival. The event was organised by Edinburgh-based Hand Up Media, which specialises in promoting fair trade and ethical lifestyle issues. Director Tania Pramschufer said: “We were delighted to host this event for the fourth year in a row. The event brought together exhibitors selling goods and promoting fair trade issues from as far as Kenya and Zambia as well as across the UK. With over 30,000 visitors, musicians, dancers and street performers participating, this fun and inspirational festival event helps thousands of workers around the world, work their way out of poverty through fair trade.” I attended the event with three of Shared Interest’s volunteers, Pat, Jan and Charlotte who each had an enjoyable (if a little tiring!) day on the stand.

Over the course of the three-day event we estimate that we spoke to over 500 attendees. Some of the people we spoke to were at the event specifically to show their support for fair trade, while others were just passing by. Almost everyone we spoke to were already supporters of fair trade, demonstrating just how far the movement has grown. If you would like to find out more about upcoming events or if you would like to meet other Shared Interest members in your local area, please email volunteers@shared-interest.com.

Thank you Thank you to everyone who completed the Member’s Survey sent out in the last issue of QR. In total we received over 2,500 responses (28% of our membership). The feedback is of great help to the development of the organisation and the results will be published in the 2011 social accounts. A big thank you must also go to everyone who volunteered to help the team to input the information. We could not have done it without their help.

Share Your Story We are really keen to find out more about our members, in particular, how you found out about Shared Interest and what motivated you to invest in us. We would like to use this information to produce a set of case studies that can be used to help promote Shared Interest and encourage new investors to open an account. These case studies will be used in local newspapers, magazines as well as online. If you are interested in helping us spread the word about Shared Interest please email editor@shared‑interest.com for further information.

Upcoming events 22/10/11 Sunderland 11-3pm

23/10/11 Oxford 4-5.30pm

7/11/11 London 3-8pm

Fair trade festival of art, crafts and food at the Museum and Winter Gardens to celebrate Sunderland’s 4th year as a Fairtrade City.

‘Why give to charity or invest anyway?’ Merry Bells Village Hall, Wheatley, Oxford. Supporter Relations Officer Sally Reith will be giving a presentation.

Fairtrade London Campaign Workshops, City Hall. Annual event where activists and supporters come together to be trained and exchange ideas and best practice. qr81 03

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the future of

shared interest

As many of you will know, last January saw Shared Interest embark on the periodic review of the organisation’s overall strategy.

This strategic review process has involved focused discussions with staff and members of the Board and Council, a survey of a sample of the membership and breakout sessions with members at the last AGM. The process, while it has been quite lengthy, has been an interesting one and we are pleased to be able to share with you some of the results of the activity.

This is just a snapshot of how we see Shared Interest developing

The information collected during the review process makes it is clear that the demand for financing among fair trade producers still outstrips supply. Moving forward, our overall strategy will continue to focus on closing the gap between supply and demand.

Photos: breakout sessions at the 2011 AGM

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New office in West Africa We are delighted to share with you the news that we will be opening a new overseas office. In November, Managing Director Patricia Alexander, Business Development Manager Elisabeth Wilson and Rachel Ngondo, our Regional Development Executive (RDE) for East Africa, will visit Ghana to recruit an RDE for our new West Africa office which should be up and running in the New Year. Our overseas offices have been very successful in both raising our profile and increasing our direct lending to producers. The West Africa office will help us to branch out into the French speaking fair trade market and increase our lending in a wide range of commodities including cocoa, fruit, rice and cotton. We chose Ghana as the location for the new office because it is politically stable and has good infrastructure and a strong fair trade presence.

The diagram shows how our direct lending to producer groups has increased since we opened our first overseas offices in 2006.

What we intend to do Investment

Lending

Using a variety of methods we aim to increase our invested funds to lend to £50m by 2015. To do this we will implement some key recommendations from our recent marketing review which include:

To enable us to lend our investors’ funds most effectively and to have the most positive impact on the lives of the producer groups we work with, we aim to:

• Separating the communications activity of the Society and Foundation in a bid to avoid confusion over the work that we do.

• Increase the percentage of funds lent from 60% to 80% with more emphasis on direct lending to producer groups.

• Improve the enquiry process for the Society to make it easier for potential members to open accounts.

• Extend our geographical reach by opening another overseas office in West Africa.

• Increase the number of Shared Interest ambassadors and provide proper training and resources to help them spread the Shared Interest message. • Improve our online presence to raise brand awareness, attract new audiences and make more information available and easily accessible to our current members.

• Investigate working with other marks, expanding our product range to South-South lending as well as researching the potential to lend in India, Pakistan and Bangladesh and testing some small (5%) pre-fair trade lending. This is just a snapshot of how we see Shared Interest developing; we will bring you more information as the full report is published. If you have any feedback please email membership@shared-interest.com qr81 05

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Not an easy place t

Our members’ capital is helping farmers in one of the most dangerous and difficu Africa by financing export orders for their high quality cocoa, va

Gourmet Gardens, based in Uganda, was set up in 2002 with the aim of becoming “renowned for outstanding products that are produced in harmony with nature and in a sustainable and fair relationship with the local producers”. Two years later it formed a sister company, Domaine Monts de la Lune (Mountains of the Moon), based in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It has a 20 hectare plantation near the Virunga National Park, just over the border from Uganda, and it also works closely with a local association of 1,000 farmers called Le Jardin Bio Equitable. The actual production area is located on the bend of a river that offers some protection from potential violence. The ideal climate of the rain forest area produces vanilla and cocoa with a highly distinctive aroma. All production is certified organic and Fairtrade. Gourmet Gardens claims to be the largest supplier of Fairtrade vanilla in East Africa. It also says that its bird’s eye chillies are the hottest in the world.

not an easy place to work in. Being land-locked, businesses face the challenge of high transport costs. The situation is aggravated by a long and devastating civil war. As a result the infrastructure is in tatters, government services are weak and inefficient, and educational levels and professional skills are poor. Furthermore, there is little trust in the country and its financial institutions.

In the case of cocoa, Gourmet Gardens can get buyers to commit to orders in advance, but they will not do this for vanilla. Gourmet Gardens has to keep large stocks of vanilla and it often takes up to 12 months from harvest to sale.

“Establishing and running an organic and Fairtrade certified farmer group within such a context is challenging. However, over the years we have found ways to deal with most of these challenges. The exception remained access to adequate finance. We believe that the support of Shared Interest will help to overcome this last key bottle neck in our business, to the benefit of the members of the farmer group and our company. From the coming season onwards we will be able to buy the whole vanilla crop of the project members and will be able to assure timely payments. In parallel, increasing Shared Interest output will will help help to reduce to overcome production overheads, in this last key particular those bottle neck related to certification.

Dr Clemens Fehr, Operations Manager, said: “The Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is

“The co-operation with Shared Interest means adequate and long-term access to finance.”

During the years of war, the people of Congo suffered extensively and the local economy is in tatters with few employment opportunities. Though relative peace has returned to the area, investments remain negligible and most of the large workforce is still unemployed. Among the worst hit sectors is agriculture, which has always been the lifeline for most of the population. Gourmet Gardens applied to Shared Interest for a credit facility to manage cash flow during harvesting and processing of cocoa and vanilla because the farmers are paid at harvest while the buyers pay some time after they receive the products.

Photos: (above) farmer with vanilla tree, (below) woman sorting dried vanilla pods, (background) cocoa

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e to work

and difficult parts of y cocoa, vanilla and spices.

Other recent lending Apoq Apoq is a co-operative of over 250 banana farmers located in the northern coastal region of Peru. It is the latest of several banana co-operatives in the region to take out a Shared Interest loan to improve its production infrastructure. By installing cableways and buying a water tanker and two new trucks Apoq will increase production and reduce losses. This will enable them to pay the farmers more for their crops and invest more in social and environmental programmes.

Fecafem Fecafem, in Ecuador, is a second level cooperative of three associations with a total of 250 coffee farmers. It is experiencing a significant increase in export sales following its achievement of Fairtrade certification this year. Shared Interest is providing the loan finance to help it expand. Fecafem has also won its first order to supply Fairtrade peanuts. Some of the coffee farmers are also growing peanuts to diversify their income. Peanuts have a shorter production cycle and earlier harvest than coffee.

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Fair price for

Inca super food One of our new customers is bringing the produce from some of the world’s most inaccessible farms to the high value health food market in the US.

Andean Naturals buys quinoa from small farms in the mountains of Bolivia and Peru and distributes it throughout North America. It has a head office and warehouse in California and a processing plant in Bolivia. The operation supports some 4,000 farmers. Andean Naturals uses its Shared Interest credit facility to make pre-harvest payments to the farmers. Andean Naturals was set up in 2004 by five Bolivian entrepreneurs based in the US who wanted to improve the livelihoods of Bolivian farmers by gaining access to the North American market. Since then the company has built a reputation in the US as a specialist supplier of a range of quinoa and quinoa products such as flour, pasta and flakes.

Photos: quinoa harvest in Bolivia

The company aims to promote sustainable agriculture in the Andes, improve economic development in the farming communities and increase the demand for quinoa as a healthy food in the US. Andean farmers are among the poorest in the world. They have difficulty accessing markets that will pay them fairly for their products. They often opt for planting cash crops, using chemicals and imported seeds instead of utilising more traditional and environmentally-friendly methods. As a result, these farmers are caught in an unhealthy cycle of dependency to suppliers for inputs and are

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Why we lend to buyers

Some people are surprised to learn that the majority of our lending is made to fair trade buyer organisations in Europe and North America. Surely, they say, it would better to lend the money to producers in developing countries. Well, in a way, that’s what happens. The fair trade buyers use the money we lend them to make pre-payments to producer groups when they place orders and to settle the balance promptly on delivery. Without this working capital, generously provided by our members, it’s unlikely that the fair trade market would have developed as much as it has. During its first 10 years Shared Interest lent almost exclusively to buyer organisations, but in recent years direct lending to producer groups has been increasing. There are now 71 producer groups and 42 buyer organisations with credit accounts. We expect this trend to continue. But we will keep on lending to fair trade buyers – to early pioneers such as Traidcraft and Ten Thousand Villages and to less well known newcomers – because through them our members’ capital can reach producer groups who would not be able to borrow directly from us. unwillingly forced to degrade their own land. Andean Naturals provides a market-based solution, allowing reliable and fair market access to small-scale organic farmers. By channelling market demand and paying premium prices, organic agriculture and environmental protection are encouraged. Quinoa (pronounced keen-wah) has been cultivated in the Andes for over 5,000 years and was the staple food of the Inca civilisation. It is one of the few crops that can survive in the harsh environment of low rainfall, high altitude, cold air, hot sun and poor soil. Quinoa is an annual herb (not a cereal) that grows from three to six feet high, with seeds in large clusters

We’ve also recently provided a credit facility to Jolica, a distributor of fair trade jewellery and accessories based in Canada. Jolica sells via a network of 400 ‘gift consultants’ at home parties as well as through online and catalogue sales. Consequently it needs to hold a relatively large stock and the Shared Interest facility helps to manage cash flow. The photograph shows women in India checking the quality of wallets before dispatch to Jolica.

at the end of the stalk. When cooked the seeds have a fluffy consistency and a delicate, nutty flavour. Quinoa is high in protein, calcium and iron and contains an almost perfect balance of all eight essential amino acids. It is Andean promoted as a Naturals ‘super food’ to health conscious provides a consumers in market-based North America and Europe. solution

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Disabled workers

win business award

Congratulations to long-standing customer Craft Aid Mauritius for winning the prestigious Mauritius Business Excellence Award in the small business category.

Craft Aid is the only fair trade organisation in the small island nation of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean. It is a not for profit organisation dedicated to the welfare of disabled people. Established in 1982 with five employees, it now has over 200 employees, most whom are disabled or disadvantaged. It exports a range of clothing and bags made from Fairtrade cotton, handmade greetings cards decorated with pressed flowers and Fairtrade sugar.

Photos: from left, sugar production, making clothes and bags (here for Shared Interest) and growing flowers for decorating cards

Craft Aid aims to give its employees the opportunity to be self-sufficient and enable them to enhance their social status and provide for their families instead of depending on them.

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Craft Aid also provides all employees with a medical allowance, free consultations with a doctor, transport facilities, profit shares as well as opportunities to partake in recreational activities. It runs a pension scheme for all employees and gives grants to a number of organisations working with disabled people. The award recognises best business practices among Mauritian enterprises for sustained competitiveness in the global trading arena and is a major achievement for Craft Aid Mauritius.

It found that the market for these items alone was not sustainable so it also started Managing Director, Gabriel Kamudu packaging sugar. recognising the impact that Shared Interest funds have on the business said: “This In 2004, Craft Aid conducted a strategic award is dedicated to review of its business every employee of Craft and decided to increase Established Aid and to our customers greatly the production of and friends who make it with the aim organic cotton clothing. possible for us to have a of providing As a result Craft Aid’s sustainable business and product mix has also to Shared interest employment for changed dramatically. and its members who disabled people In 2004 it was 55% support us in providing sugar packaging, 15% financial support for us to wood products and 30% cards and other be able to finance our production.” handicrafts (including a few textiles). Now He continued: “Last but not least we would textiles account for over 80% of sales. like to recommend to all companies to Craft Aid has to import most of the cotton follow the example of creating employment it needs and has to manage its cash flow and opportunities for people with very carefully. Since working with Shared disabilities.” Interest, Craft Aid benefited not only from Craft Aid Mauritius has been a customer more reasonable payment terms from of Shared Interest for over 10 years, buyers but has also been able to access during which it has significantly changed more affordable loans, enabling it to pay its product mix, increased the number of off existing lending with local banks and employees, improved its cash flow and to purchase a large amount of Fairtrade provided more benefits to its staff and organic cotton. the local community. The organisation This has improved cash flow and increased was established with the aim of providing productivity as the organisation has built up employment for disabled people. stocks of raw materials so that there is no At first it concentrated on handicrafts delay between order and production time. including a distinctive range of greetings cards and gift wrapping paper decorated with pressed flowers. qr81 11 QR81-V4.indd 11

06/10/2011 16:13:37


Council Needs You!

being on Council

The Shared Interest Council plays an important part in the governance of the Society.

by Margaret Newens, Council member since 2010.

It reviews developments on behalf of members, makes suggestions to the Board and Management and brings issues to the AGM for discussion by the membership.

Joining Council is an excellent opportunity to be more involved in Shared Interest. Council is part of Shared Interest’s governance structure and provides a formal mechanism for members to question the Society’s Directors and management and to offer comments.

We’re looking for someone to join our Council from March 2012. Council is hoping to recruit someone with either business/financial and/or marketing/ fund raising experience. You must have been a member of the Society for more than a year, and be prepared to attend Council meetings three times a year (as well as the AGM).

We have opportunities as Council members to contribute to important reviews. For example, each Council member joined in a workshop session, together with some Board and staff members, at an early stage of the strategic review. We also met the consultant leading the recent communications review. I’ve been able to learn more about our lending and the diversity of our customers from the reports and discussions we have had in Council. I also have a better appreciation of the commitment, knowledge and skills that our staff and Board need to keep the Society on track with its mission, both supporting existing customers and diversifying into new areas. This has never been more so than since the global financial crisis. It is important that Council listens to the views of other members and AGM and Members’ Days are occasions for this. The 2011 meeting provided us with a special opportunity to meet with members in small groups, where questions pertinent to the strategic review were discussed.

To find out more about getting involved with the Council please contact the Company Secretary, Tim Morgan, at tim.morgan@shared-interest.com. Applications, accompanied by a CV, should also be emailed to Tim. The closing date for applications is 14 November 2011.

Members’ day and AGM The next Shared Interest Members’ Day and AGM will be held on Friday 16 March 2012 in Oxford at the Town Hall. Full details about the event will be included in the mailing to members in January.

Over the last year Council has been giving some thought to what it means to be a membership organisation and how Shared Interest could give members more opportunities to be involved. One outcome is that when we have a vacancy on Council, as we do now, which needs to be filled by application, we shall invite the membership to decide which candidate joins us by indicating their preferred candidate in a postal ballot. Each member can bring something new to the mix of experiences, skills and interests that we need on Council. Above all, we need enthusiasm and commitment. Please consider applying to join us.

Contact us Shared Interest 2 Cathedral Square Groat Market Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 1EH 0191 233 9102 membership@shared-interest.com

Quarterly Return is the newsletter of Shared Interest. Shared Interest Society Ltd is a financial co-operative. It uses the pooled investments of its members in the UK to effect real and lasting improvements to people’s lives in the developing world.

QR is printed on paper from sustainable, well managed sources certified by the Forest Stewardship Council.

Shared Interest Society Ltd is registered with the Registrar of Friendly Societies, number 27093R. The Directors decide on what the interest amount will be, if any, after the end of the financial year when financial results for the past year are known. Since 1 December 2008 the interest rate has been 0%.

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Members' Newsletter ~ Quarterly Return 81