Advertorial from Shared Interest

Harvesting hope for a better future

Inka Moss and Shared Interest join forces to create sustainable income opportunities through responsible moss harvesting in the Andean region

Moss harvester Fiorella Anchiraico

Advertorial from Shared Interest

Since beginning in 1970, Earth Day has brought together millions of people in over 190 countries to fight for a more sustainable future. This Earth Day takes place on Saturday 22 April. The campaign will shine a light on how we can invest in our planet together. We may not always think about the origin of items when we buy them but it is becoming increasingly important to understand the challenges faced by farmers and craftspeople.  

In the Andean Region of South America, the challenging altitudes and landscapes are limiting in terms of income opportunities. Food insecurity is an issue in rural regions, where many smallholder farmers produce basic food crops, mostly potato, at a subsistence level.  

Peruvian social enterprise Inka Moss offers training to support communities to supplement their income by collecting moss in a way that complements the natural ecosystem. They purchase the moss at a fair price and sell it internationally for various uses including in horticulture, to add nutrients to soil. 

Access to finance can be an issue for organisations like Inka Moss.  Agriculture can be seen as a high risk sector, with production often unpredictable, an issue which is intensified by climate change. Often, in the Peruvian Amazon, interest rates are over 20%, with short repayment periods.

Newcastle-based social lender Shared Interest has provided finance to Inka Moss for over five years, providing fair finance to help pay farmers when the moss is harvested.

The main change I have seen in the community is that the children can now get the proper food that they need to be healthy and that the community as a whole has an additional source of income to cover the needs we have.

Fiorella Anchiraico Montalvo, moss collector

Working with the moss increases farmers’ annual income by almost a third. The additional employment also makes a huge difference to families, meaning that fewer men migrate to the city for work and women are able to earn their own money alongside caring for their livestock.

Fiorella Anchiraico Montalvo began collecting moss eight years ago to earn an income to support her family. She said: “The main change I have seen in the community is that the children can now get the proper food that they need to be healthy and that the community as a whole has an additional source of income to cover the needs we have.”

Dionicio Jimenez is the Supply Chain Manager at Inka Moss and has been working with Inka Moss since the beginning. He said: “There have definitely been some big, big changes since I started working as part of Inka Moss. …….Those big changes that were for myself or my children and for my family and community as a whole.

Fiorella Ramos

“I still remember that there were some houses built with very basic materials. In some cases, they didn’t even have doors or windows. But, they didn’t have the income to get anything different from that. Nowadays if you go and visit the same houses, they have changed. In some cases, the structures are built with better materials.”

There is no doubt that climate change is having an impact on the moss harvesters, changing seasons in a region which already experiences erratic weather patterns, causing challenging working conditions. 

Inka Moss Founder Marco Piñatelli said: “We approached Shared Interest for finance so that we can pay the farmers for their moss on delivery to our factory.  The loan will also give us the opportunity to include more remote communities within our supply chain.”

Since this initial facility, Inka Moss have increased the number of moss gatherers by a third and the number of direct beneficiaries by almost 1,000.

Shared Interest forms the vital link between UK social investors and fair trade organisations in 45 countries. The organisation works hand in hand with farmers, artisans and communities to strengthen enterprises, increase employment opportunities and implement innovative methods of sustainable production.  

You can open a Share Account with £100 and start investing in a fairer world. Find out more at shared-interest.com/invest. As with all investments, your capital may be at risk.

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