Social lending’s vital role recognised with prestigious awards

Shared Interest receives the Queen’s Award and is named NatWest Impact Champion of 2020 – as it rises to new global challenges

Shared Interest Society, a social lender that has a long-running relationship with The Big Issue magazine, received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in April as it marked 30 years of investing in a fairer world. Just weeks later, the organisation marked a second major accolade when it was named Nat West Impact Champion of 2020 and listed as one of the top 100 social enterprises in the UK.

Over 10,000 people in the UK have invested over £44m in Shared Interest, to help provide loans and credit facilities to primarily fair trade businesses, in disadvantaged communities across the globe.  With its headquarters in the UK, the organisation also has representatives working in Costa Rica, Kenya, Ghana and Peru.

In 2020 the ethical investment organisation is marking its 30th anniversary, and Shared Interest’s regional manager for Latin America, Paul Sablich, explained that despite the unprecedented challenges thrown up by the Covid-19 pandemic, they are finding new ways to stay connected: “We are currently unable to visit our customers due to the impact of coronavirus across the world, but it does not prevent us being close to them through alternative means, and finding ways to continue supporting them.”

Marco Garcia, lending manager for Central America added: “Amidst these complicated times, this award confirms the need to continue our solidarity efforts towards those in need around the world.”

Shared Interest’s lending manager for West Africa, John Dossou, reaffirmed that the need for ethical investment across the globe is stronger than ever: “Winning the Queen’s Award at this time shows how vital our work is, and we must celebrate our services being recognised in this way.  Now, more than ever, we need to offer producers finance with a human face.”

And managing director of Shared Interest, Patricia Alexander, highlighted that the loyalty and commitment of investors, coupled with a focus on “trade rather than aid”, will be needed more than ever moving forward.  She said: “These awards are a symbol of the hard work and dedication of every single person involved in the organisation.

“Our investors are incredibly loyal, and stay with Shared Interest for an average of 14 years,” she explained. Their commitment made it possible for our financial services to impact almost 400,000 people last year alone.

“For every farmer or handcraft maker we are able to help, there are dozens in great need of finance. Our lending is in high demand, as producers do not have the security or assets to secure funds elsewhere.

“As the world enters an extremely challenging time, now more than ever, we need to help people provide for themselves and their families.”

Find out more about Shared Interest, and how you can get involved, at www.shared-interest.com