World Fair Trade Day is a global celebration held each year on the second Saturday of May. It is an opportunity to imagine a world where trade helps support small-scale farmers, producers, and their families, developing healthy and sustainable communities around the world.
With the help of ethical investors, Newcastle-based social lender Shared Interest is doing just this. By working with communities across the globe, it is providing finance to enable farmers and craftspeople to create a better future for themselves and their families.
The Amazonas region is one of the main coffee-growing areas in Peru, and it is where Cooperativa Agraria Rodríguez de Mendoza (COOPARM), an organic and Fairtrade coffee co-operative, was founded in 1991 by 100 farmers.
In 2010, it became a Shared Interest customer when it provided finance to support the co-operative in exporting its coffee.
Coffee farmer Maria Acosta said: “It has been a great experience, working together to advance our co-operative as responsible members, learning how to improve the crop.”
General manager Ramiro Bocanegra told us that COOPARM faced many challenges, so Shared Interest’s role as the sole social lender puts: “Shared Interest at the heart of COOPARM.”
Shared Interest finance enabled COOPARM to support farmers in preparing their land for harvest and provided payment when the coffee was collected. A couple of years later, the co-operative used a Shared Interest loan to acquire machinery and equipment for its dry mill.
COOPARM farmer Jairo Rodriguez Vargas said: “Being part of the co-op means that we are organised, and we feel a part of something, like being with family. Life has changed a lot because now we have training on best practice.”
COOPARM now has 542 farmer members who put people and planet at the forefront of producing high-quality coffee. It has a focus on sustainability and offers a training programme on organic practices, conservation, and land preservation.
In growing these varietals, COOPARM faces the same challenges as other coffee-producing organisations: a notoriously unstable market that sees prices fluctuate year on year.
Moreover, prices depend on weather conditions, a fact that makes the increasing unpredictability a big issue for growers.
Jairo added: “In terms of climate, the period of rain has got longer over the last two years. It would normally have been wet in winter and summer would be drier but we now see rain in summer. The amount of water increases the illnesses that affect the crops.
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, craftspeople 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
The value of investments can fall as well as rise, which could mean getting back less than you originally put in. Past performance is no guarantee of future results. Therefore before deciding to invest, please consult an independent financial adviser to better understand the risks and if such an investment is right for you.
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