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Shared Interest


Shared Interest Foundation is an ethical investment co-operative that has been investing in fair trade since 1990. Their mission is to provide financial services and business support to improve livelihoods and living standards for disadvantaged communities in some of the world's poorest countries. Shared Interest forms the link between social investors (mainly from the UK) and fair trade organizations needing finance.


The story of Shared Interest started in 1986 when the Christian development agency, Traidcraft Exchange, sponsored research into the role of banking and investment within the fair trade movement. This research concluded that the main challenge faced by those producing fair trade goods was access to working capital. Out of the conclusion of this study Shared Interest was created in 1990, a unique financial organization that aims to do business for mutual service rather than for investor’s profit.


Shared Interest focuses exclusively on fair trade. They only work with businesses that are registered members of Fairtrade International or World Fair Trade Organization. Shared Interest offers credit without taking security, because it would be an insurmountable obstacle to many fair trade businesses to offer securities. The investors share business risks with the producers they support. This trust relationship makes trade possible.


Shared Interest has almost 9,000 investors and in 2013 they lent about 48 million Euro. The funds are used to provide credit services and low interest loans to fair trade farmers and artisans in the developing world.


Shared Interest offers a return on investment; however, this isn't always financial. Many of their investors are motivated by the social return of their investment and the positive impact their money has across the globe. The Board of Directors decides on the amount of interest to be paid. The interest rate is usually 4% below the base rate and is currently 0.5%. Investors can track their investments online in order to see what their money is spent on.


Shared Interest seeks to satisfy the needs of producers as they trade their way out of poverty and to meet the aspirations of their investors and donors to support them in achieving this aim. The motto for investors is: “Your investment may not make you rich but it will enrich the lives of others.”


The policy of the Foundation is monitored by the Council of Fair Interest which is made up of a combination of nine elected and randomly selected Shared Interest investors. The main aim is to help keep the organization faithful to its mission.


Shared Interest is a global organization and has offices in the UK (head office), Kenya, Peru, Costa Rica and Ghana. The Foundation does not only provide financial support but also helps businesses in the form of training programs for entrepreneurs and employees. They also help businesses to build trading networks.


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Type of initiative Action/campaign organization, Information/network organization
Field of work Agriculture, Manufacturing, Trade, Financial services, Other (specify):
Date of commencement 1990
Founder(s) The Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust and the Ecumenical Development Co-operative Society
Legal form Charity Foundation
Continent Europe
Country England
City Newcastle
One or several keywords that describe your initiative Fair trade finance, cooperative, community benefit society, fair trade lender
Publications Annual reports, Investor Enquiry Pack, Educational material
More information

Contact person(s)

Patricia Alexander


Contact information

Name Shared Interest Foundation
Address No 2 Cathedral Square Groat Market
Zip/postal code NE1 1EH
Place Newcastle
State/province Tyne and Wear
Country England
Phone +44 ( 0 ) 191 233 9100



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